Entering The Big Story

(Homily for Baptism of Lord)

Message: By baptism we personally entered the the Big Story.

These past weeks we have been hearing about the "Big Story" - the story that makes sense of our world and our individual lives. Two Sundays ago we saw how the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt connects with the Big Story - the years that the Hebrews spent in Egypt and how God brought them to the Promised Land. Last week we saw how the Magi - those great astronomers from the East - became part of the Big Story, how they discovered the Power behind the forces of nature.

Before talking about the Baptism of Jesus in relation to the Big Story, I would like to address a couple of common objections to our story. Some people say it is too complicated - all those prophets, wars, nations and dates. But then comes the second objection, "Your story is too childlike and simplistic."

Both objections contain truth. Our story is complex. It's the story of humanity, the universe and what's happening behind the scenes. At the same time, our story is simple. As one writer expressed it: "There is, ultimately, only one mystery Christians celebrate - Jesus' dying and rising in a new human community called 'Church.'"

We see that simplicity in today's Feast - the Baptism of Jesus. In the Jordan River he is immersed - a kind of death. He rises from the waters refreshed and a voice from heaven calls Jesus "my beloved son." That title echoes Isaac - the beloved son of Abraham. As Abraham offers his son, so the Father offers Jesus for our salvation.

"There is a baptism with which I must be baptized," says Jesus, "and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished." (Lk 12:50) Jesus' ultimate baptism is his death. You and I also have to share in that cup (cf. Mt 21:22), to be baptized into his death, burial and resurrection. (cf. Rom 6:4) That is our story in a few words. It begins with baptism and reaches it peak moment in the Eucharist. When the priest lifts up the Body of Jesus and the Chalice of his Blood, Christs lifts us to the Father. We'll hear more about that next week when John points out Jesus as the "Lamb of God."

For this Sunday, it is enough to thank God for your baptism. Even if you were a child: "I grasped you by the hand, I formed you," as we heard in the first reading. By baptism we personally entered the the Big Story. Your baptism was a pure gift; we are saved by grace. So we say, "Give to the Lord glory and praise; give the Lord the glory due his name. Amen.

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Spanish Version

From the archives (Baptism of the Lord, Year A):

2011: Seven Teachings about Baptism
2008: Road to Sanity
2005: Most Shocking
2002: The Grace of Baptism

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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