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.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Homily Baptism of the Lord Year B 11 January 2009

Every form of life – plants, animals, fish, birds, and humans –
depends on water as a basic and essential element in sustaining life.

Water remains a basic and fundamental staple of human existence.

It is both a source and symbol of nourishment and cleansing.

2/3 of the earth…some 326 million trillion gallons…is comprised of water.
65 percent of the human body is made up of water.

It is this essential, ubiquitous, and life-sustaining element of earthly existence
that God has chosen as the symbol of His grace…
His essential, ubiquitous, and life-sustaining grace…
made manifest to us in the Sacrament of Baptism.

Today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord,
which commemorates both the moment of the baptism of Jesus by John
and the institution of the Sacrament of Baptism
provides a most valuable opportunity for us to reflect
on the awesome reality and impact of our own baptism.

As Jesus descends into the waters of the Jordan…
the Son of God again humbles Himself, this time in being baptized by a man,
in order to make holy the waters of Baptism, for our salvation.

Jesus is not baptized for His own sake…for that would not be necessary at all…
but instead He is baptized for our sake
and to provide for us this marvelous Sacrament.

The moment of Jesus’ Baptism, at the beginning of His public ministry,
is the inauguration of His mission,
begun in the preaching of the Gospel
and the paschal mystery of His Passion and Resurrection
and continually fulfilled in the life of His Church.

In the unique moments of our own baptism,
the mission entrusted by God to us is inaugurated
as we experience in a profound way the presence of God’s grace.

The grace of Baptism has powerful effects in the life and soul of the believer.

Baptism washes the soul clean of all sin, both original sin and personal sin.

Baptism transforms the believer into a new creature, a child of God,
and fills the soul with His sanctifying grace –
the grace to believe, to possess the virtues of faith, hope and love
to live and act under the promptings of the Spirit
and to grow in holiness.

Baptism incorporates the believer into the Mystical Body of Christ,
and, through this gateway to the sacraments,
opens the way for the faithful to experience the life of the Church.
In all this, a bond of unity is established among believers,
so that there exists a common heritage shared by God’s children,
who together are given the honor of calling on God as “Our Father”
and a sharing in holy things among the members of the Church.

Upon each soul the Sacrament of Baptism impresses an indelible mark,
a permanent seal binding us to Christ.

In short, our common Baptism transforms us and defines us.
We belong to God and to the Church!

Fundamental to our identity as God’s children and members of the Church
is our duty to recognize and defend the dignity of the human person.

The recent Vatican instruction Dignitas Personae – The Dignity of the Person –
which was released in English last month,
applies the inviolable principle of the dignity of life
to certain modern bioethical questions.

The document emphasizes the reality that human life is a gift from God
which has its authentic origin within the context of marriage and the family,
that every life possesses a dignity by virtue of the simple fact of existing,
and these truths spring from human nature and the natural law.

The document expresses a great “yes” to human life
over and against the destructive and dehumanizing experiments of science,
such as the creation, freezing, destruction, manipulation of embryos
gene therapy and genetic engineering,
human cloning, research on embryonic stem cells,
in vitro fertilization,
and the creation of hybrids between human and animal genes.

Our baptismal vocation compels all the faithful to be people of truth and love,
who live the faith with conviction in the midst of the world.
That includes standing against every attempt by science and government
to undermine the dignity of life
and to manipulate and destroy the most vulnerable among us.

Despite the threats to human life and Christian faith…
our God gives us great things in which we find hope!

As we begin Vocations Awareness Week,
we are mindful that God calls men and women to unique vocations
from within the common vocation of the baptized.

Marriage is the partnership of the whole of life between a man and a woman,
by which two persons become one flesh
and share in the action of God in creating and sustaining new life.

In the Ordained Priesthood, despite his weakness, a man is conformed to Christ
consecrated to stand in the person of Christ the Head of the Body,
ordained to preach the word, offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice,
and bring Christ to others in the sacrifices of his own life.

Religious life is a great gift to the whole Church,
in which men and women consecrate their lives to God
and serve the Church in a diversity of religious orders and charisms.

The life of the Church is so beautiful,
and the vocations to marriage, priesthood, and religious life are so fulfilling,
when embraced in love and lived in truth!

As we strive to discern and to live authentically our particular vocation from God
and to fulfill our calling as baptized people
to proclaim the truth of the dignity of the human person,
we find our strength in the person of Christ.

In this Holy Mass we behold Him:
the Lamb of God, who takes away our sins
and the Good Shepherd, who gathers us in his arms and leads us with care.

May the witness of the Church’s faith fill the whole world…
as water covers the earth…
that all people may see together the glory of the Lord!

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