Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Homily Baptism of the Lord Year A 13 January 2008

The Baptism of Jesus is a moment of supreme humility
on the part of Jesus, the Word made flesh.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the whole world,
has no sins which could be washed away in the waters of Baptism.
Yet He insists on being baptized.

John the Baptizer protests.
Even John, the one who came to prepare the way for the King, does not understand.
It doesn’t seem right to him.
Yet, John…in humility and in obedience…surrenders his will to the will of Christ.

Jesus was not baptized for His own sake but for ours.

Jesus comes to present Himself for Baptism…
not that He may be sanctified…
but so that He might Himself sanctify the very waters of Baptism.

As He enters the waters, He is not cleansed of sins…
as we have been in our own Baptism.
Instead, as He rises from the waters, our sins cling to Him.

As He did in becoming man in the womb of the Virgin,
Jesus again humbles Himself to be baptized by John.

By his own plunging into the waters of the Jordan River…
He makes the sacramental sign of water holy
and institutes the Sacrament of Baptism for the good of His Church.

The voice of the Father is heard delighting in what His Son has done.
The Spirit hovers over to river to bestow grace on this holy moment.
The Triune God is present in His fullness
as the path to holiness and eternal life is opened for all humanity.

Baptism bestows on our souls an indelible character… a mark…a seal…
which brands our soul…as belonging to Christ.

The baptismal character consecrates the baptized for the Christian life…
sets them apart from the rest of humanity…
because of the intimate relationship with Jesus Christ
into which we are drawn through this sacrament.

The Baptismal seal enables the baptized…and compels us…to live in Christ…
by authentic participation in the Sacred Liturgy
by the witness of a holy and devout life
by the practice of charity
and by carrying the truth and love of Jesus Christ to the world!

The baptismal call of all the baptized is a solemn responsibility…
and it is one that must be understood in its authentic fullness.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council
offered very beautiful and precise teachings
about the mission of the baptized faithful.

In Lumen Gentium,
the Council’s document on the nature of the Church, it is written:

The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated as a spiritual house…
They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity.

This teaching of the Church is of incredible significance to all of us…
for it not only offers a framework of what disciples are called to do…
but it defines who you are as members of Christ’s Mystical Body.

You who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ…
are strengthened and enlivened by his grace to live the faith you profess.

What defines the unique call of the baptized faithful
as distinct from the clerical state…
is that you are called to evangelize the world.

My own unique vocation is intimately connected with the celebration of the Mass.
I am most a priest when I offer the sacrifice of the Mass and preach the Gospel.

While the faithful are expected to take part in the Mass…
in a real and deeply spiritual way…
your own vocation is not fulfilled there.

You have access to people and places where I as a priest cannot go…
your workplaces, your schools, your homes…
and so you can bring Christ…and His truth and love…
into the lives of others in ways I could never dream of.

While it is good that so many of you offer yourselves to the Church
in various ministries in the Liturgy…
your proper vocation is not fulfilled by your service in the sanctuary.

God desires to work in you in so many other ways.
You are husbands and wives…mothers and fathers…students and teachers…
co-workers and colleagues.
Open your hearts to God’s grace at work in your lives in the world.

The Church does not teach about the distinct call of laity and clergy and religious
because of a need for power or a sense of superiority…
as the accusations go.

Rather, we recognize that essential distinctions must be made
and the truth of who we are must be lived out.
Holiness is in the details!

Every baptized person has been renewed in Christ by the grace of our Baptism…
and so are called to live in Christ and to proclaim His Gospel.

From within the faithful, men chosen by God for the priesthood
are further set apart as consecrated ministers of Word and Sacrament.
Also from within the faithful, God calls men and women
to live the consecrated religious life.

As we celebrate the beginning of Vocations Awareness Week today…
we are reminded of these critical distinctions
among the members of Christ's Body.

Holiness is in the details!
Muddying the distinctions only serves to suck the life out of each unique calling.

God calls each person for a unique purpose.
Holiness is found only by living as God calls you…
and none of us can live another’s vocation!

Ponder today where God has called…or is calling…you.
Humble yourselves before His will…and embrace the fullness of your vocation.

Embrace the truth…
and strive always for holiness in the details of each and every day!

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