St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Our God is an awesome God                                                -Homily January 11, 2015

Baptism of the Lord

 

Traditionally, the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord was the celebration of three episodes in the life of Jesus: the visit of the Magi, the Baptism of the Lord (today’s feast) and the Wedding of Cana, where the Lord changed water into wine. We now celebrate on different dates Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord. There is no particular celebration of the Wedding of Cana. But why they were celebrated together? Because the three episodes are all manifestations of the mystery of Jesus. Epiphany means “manifestation.”

 

What do the three episodes have in common? If we pay attention, the three of them manifest the divinity of Jesus, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. In the visit of the Magi, the miraculous star in the sky is a sign from heaven, and the Magi, realizing of this, offer to the baby boy frankincense. Frankincense is only given to God. In the wedding of Cana, Jesus changes water into wine. No man can do that, only God can do it. Jesus manifests in that way his glory, his divinity, and so his disciples believed in him (cf. John 2:11). Today, in the baptism of the Lord, the heavens are torn apart, the Holy Spirit descends from heaven like a dove on him, and the voice of the Father is heard: “You are my Son, the beloved.” Here we have not only a manifestation of the divinity of Jesus, but also a manifestation of the Three persons in God: God is three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

St. Peter Chrisologus said: “In the mystery of our Lord’s incarnation there were clear indications of his eternal Godhead. Yet the great events we celebrate today disclose and reveal in different ways the fact that God himself took a human body. Mortal man, enshrouded always in darkness, must not be left in ignorance, and so be deprived of what he can understand and retain only by grace. In choosing to be born for us, God chose to be known by us. He therefore reveals himself in this way, in order that this great sacrament of his love may not be an occasion for us of great misunderstanding.”

 

Let us reflect on the last sentence: “He (God) therefore reveals himself in this way”; in which way? With wonders, with things that go beyond the natural laws, with miracles: a star, heavens torn apart, water changing into wine. For which reason does He reveal himself in this way? “In order that this great sacrament of his love may not be for us an occasion of great misunderstanding.” In other words so that his humble appearance as a man may not lead us to think that he is only a man. That is the “great misunderstanding,” that Jesus is only a man. Jesus is a man, but he is also God. He is God and man. His tender skin and his beautiful eyes manifest to us that he is a man, like us; but the voice of the Father is clear, and thunders from heaven: “You are my Son.” Jesus goes to the Jordan to be baptized with water, like everyone else. But, like no one else, he changes water into wine with just his word. Jesus is God. He is the Son of God.

 

So what kind of God is Jesus? The “real deal,” we may say. He is the Supreme Being, that is why his sign is a star of heaven, and the voice of his Father comes from the highest. He is the Creator that is why with only one word he can change water into wine. He is Almighty. He is that God, the real God, the only God. That is why we pray to him, that is why we believe that he can help us, that is why we believe that, even if we have to die, he can raise us up again and give us eternal life. That is why we hope that he can forgive our sins. We think that we cannot change, but the Lord only needs an open ear to pronounce his word: “I forgive you.”

 

Some people want to say that Jesus is God because God is love, and Jesus is the highest expression of love, because he died out of love. But now he is dead, they say, and the only thing that he left for you is a good example of how you should live your life: “love until you are dead, and you will have had a good life.” The love of God is much more than that. God wants to share with you his own life, not death. He died to give us the possibility of eternal life. He rose again from the dead to show us that he is able to do it, and he will do it. Of course, we have to share in his sufferings first, but the cross is the way; it is not the final destination.

 

Our faith in God, in the Almighty God Creator of Heaven and earth, the only God, is essential to the Catholic Doctrine. We believe in the resurrection, which is a miracle, because God can make it happen. We believe that the Eucharist is the body of Christ, because God can do it. We believe that there is hope after death, because God loves us, and he can do it for us. The feast of the baptism of the Lord, the manifestation of his divinity, is a reminder for us that “our God is an awesome God.” That is the God who loves you. That is the God in whom we put our hope. Is it not beautiful to know that such a great God puts his eyes upon us? May we always love him back. May the Holy Virgin Mary intercede for us. –Fr. Andrew

 

 

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