THE INDISPENSABLE CLEANSER HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD (YEAR B) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

power of water

Water is a very indispensable commodity. From dawn to dusk we are constantly and consistently in need of water. Many people are aware of the recent discoveries of Dr.Masaru Emoto of Japan with his detailed experiment that demonstrated the hidden power of water. If perhaps you don’t know, what follows will be a needful information and enlightenment.

Dr. Emoto’s idea was to identify the effects of negative and positive words and thoughts on water. What he did was to get water from various sources and had negative and positive words spoken into them respectively and then had them frozen. Thereafter, professional photographers were asked to take pictures of the crystalline formations. The experiment disclosed that when negative words are spoken into water (like: “I hate you”) the crystalline formation from the pictures appear dark and disordered but when positive words are spoken (like: “Love and appreciation”) they appear bright, beautiful and aesthetically arranged.

Dr.Masaru Emoto concluded from his experiment that our words and feelings have serious impacts on our environment as shown in his scientific inquiry with water. We all know that about 60% of our body is made up of water and the world generally is made up of about 71% of water. Little wonder then why some philosophers like Thales would say that water is the basic principle of all things.

 The power and place of water in our world need no debate. If we examine the account of creation very closely, we will discover that water was already in place and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the deep before the first day of creation (Gen. 1:1-3).We need water for a good number of things which includes but not restricted to: drinking, washing, and cooking. A very attentive look at the Readings this Sunday discloses the phenomenon of water running through. Well, it should not be surprising as we are on this day celebrating the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ which actually closes up the Christmas Time while at the same time opening up a new Liturgical season; the Ordinary Time. This is also the same way that baptism marks the end of the old life and inaugurates the beginning of a new life (2nd Cor.5:17).

Whenever Baptism is mentioned, what immediately comes to mind is water which is the major matter used in the ritual. The reason why water features prominently in baptism is not unconnected with the numerous characteristics of water which includes its cleansing and revitalizing power.

In the First Reading (Isaiah 55:1-11), the oracle of the prophet begins with a call on all who are THIRSTY to come to the WATERS in order to be revived. This invitation is not unconnected with the call to the sacrament of baptism which is also known as the sacrament of regeneration. Anyone who is not baptized is thirsty because the individual has not received the living water. Hence through this sacrament, we are brought back to life after going through the experience of dryness brought about by sin and disconnection from God. The word baptism actually comes from the Greek “baptizo” which means to immerse or plunge into water to be raised up again into newness.

The First Reading is summarily a challenge for us to retrace our route to God, to get reconnected to Him and to be revived and regenerated in and through Him. This is basically what baptism does in the life of a Christian. Through the sin of Adam we became defected and faulty before God (Romans 5:12). Our transformation thereafter must necessarily issue firstly from our baptism in the name of the trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28:19).

The experiment of Dr. Masaru Emoto showed that water changes intrinsically based on the kind of words that are spoken over it. In the Second Reading today (1 John 5:1-9), the apostle John made us to understand that water alone does not have the ability to cleanse us. Hence it must have the power of God within it and this is summarized by love and we know that God is love (1 John 4:8). Based on this love which overcomes everything, the water of baptism gets the fellowship of blood and spirit and they together form the three witnesses of our Christian identity. To make this more concrete, one does not receive baptism only through water alone but accompanied by the specified words of baptism spoken over the water.

The big story can be found in the Gospel Reading of today (Mark 1: 7-11). Here we are presented with the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. Down the centuries, many theologians and biblical scholars have argued extensively on why it was necessary for our Lord Jesus Christ to receive baptism since the baptism of John was that of repentance. From the Gospel Reading, John earlier indicated that someone who is mightier than him is coming and would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord Jesus Christ went to John for Baptism for a good number of reasons:

  • To Identify with Sinners: Our Lord came to the River Jordan to be baptised in order to identify with sinners who would receive the remission of their sins through the Jordan River. As St. Paul would put it more clearly, the sinless one came to identify with our fallen state so that in union with him we can rise to righteousness (2nd5:21).

 

  • To show the Importance of Baptism: Furthermore, our Lord entered into the water of baptism to demonstrate to us the importance of baptism. If baptism was not necessary or optional he would not have taken the route to the Jordan River. Our Lord went to the Jordan to show us that baptism is an indispensable salutary cleanser. It is on account of this that St. Peter (1 Pet.3:21) would say:

And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  • A great Gateway: From the account of the Baptism of our Lord we learnt that after his Baptism and as he emerged from that water, the heavens opened. This in essence demonstrates to us that Baptism is a gateway opener. It opens for us new life, new doors and new realities. This new disposition is needful for us as Christians.

 

  • Baptism of the Baptiser: Some people have asked the question “who baptised John?” And the question itself is very important. We are not told that John was baptised by anyone; however he desired to be baptised by our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt.3:14). Significantly, John was baptised not only theoretically when he desired the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ but also practically when our Lord himself stepped into the water of baptism and sanctified the water while John was inside the River Jordan. And this happened before John baptized the Lord.

 

  • To Demonstrate Humility that leads to Elevation: The encounter between John and our Lord Jesus Christ at the River Jordan comes with a deep demonstration of humility. John was humble enough to admit that our Lord is mightier than him (that means he is also mighty). On the other hand our Lord was humble enough to allow John to baptise him irrespective of the gap between them. The Baptism of our Lord is in essence a great display of humility. It is on account of this that St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians (2:6-11) indicated among other things that Jesus was humble even unto death and for that reason God elevated him and gave him a name which is above all names. We are hereby advised to follow the path of humility in all things.

 

As we celebrate the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, may we also remember our own baptism through which we received the great cleansing as well as the Christian identity. We are therefore obliged to live our lives like those who have been cleansed by avoiding the dirt of sin and keeping up with the needful spiritual cleanliness.

Happy Sunday and do have a joyous celebration.

Fr. Bonnie

(fatherbonny@hotmail.com)

BaptismJesus

2 Comments on “THE INDISPENSABLE CLEANSER HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD (YEAR B) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

  1. Fr….this is nice homily….May Christ preserve you and your ministry.

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