Sunday, January 10, 2016

Jan. 10, 2016: Baptism of Our Lord C

Jan. 10, 2016: Baptism of Our Lord C

Click to hear Audio Homily
When you think of rice in Louisiana cuisine, which dishes come to mind? Rice is in our gumbo, jambalaya, dirty rice, etouffee, and beans & rice. Rice is essential in Asian cuisine, too. For Koreans, the foundation of our breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a bowl of rice. We dip our chopsticks into a morsel of rice, then we add condiments of vegetables, fish, or meat. Once we finish the bowl of rice, we are done with the meal.  

There are four important points that we should remember about baptism, and the acronym RICE will help us remember. “R” stands for Rebirth. In baptism we are born again by water and the Holy Spirit. We are cleansed from original sin and become sons and daughters of God in a special way. “I” stands for Initiation. At baptism we are initiated or admitted into full membership in the church, the community of the children of God in the world. “C” is for Consecration. In baptism we consecrate and dedicate ourselves to seek and to spread the kingdom of God. We commit ourselves to be servants of God, to do God’s will and serve God with our whole lives. And “E” is for Empowerment. At baptism the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and empowers us, equips us, gives us the moral strength to say no to evil and to live as God’s children that we have become.

Do you remember the first time you embraced the meaning of the baptism you received? I was baptized along with my dad when I was 6-yrs. old, but it was not until I was 26 years old that I understood what baptism truly meant. Recall the baptismal promises we renew every year at Easter: (1) Do you reject Satan? (2) And all his works? (3) And all his empty promises? What do those questions mean for you? During college I began to read with the eyes and heart of faith the New Testament and encounter Jesus through personal prayer. I began to have awful dreams where I encountered strange, ugly, and dark beings who frightened me, as if to discourage my effort to deepen my relationship with Jesus. It’s when I cried out for Jesus in my dream that these dark beings would vanish.

When I pondered about the dreams, I realized that Satan was real and that for many years of my young adult life, I did not reject Satan, his works, or his empty promises. Satan does not entice us with blatantly evil temptations. His strategy is much more subtle, working at the level of our pride, our inclination toward selfishness, self-importance, and self-indulgence. His goal is for us to be self-sufficient, comfortable,  and preoccupied to the point that we forget that we are beloved sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father.

What happens to us when our baptismal promises no longer have tangible meaning to us? Does that mean that our faith is dead? Does that mean that we no longer believe in what we just celebrated two weeks ago --the birth of the Christ Child? If the waters of baptism are no longer life giving to us--meaning we do not keep our baptismal promises--then we must draw to the fount of Mercy for renewal. Longing for the Heavenly Father and His Son will refresh the waters of our baptism.

Pope Francis urges us not to forget the great gift we have received. “Our baptism has changed us, given us a new and glorious hope, and empowered us to bring God’s redeeming love to all, particularly the poor, in whom we see the face of Christ. Our baptism has also given us a share in the Church’s mission of evangelization; as disciples, we are also missionaries.” Christian life is a lifelong "Amen" and an "I do" to baptismal faith.

Just as RICE is the foundation of Louisiana and Korean cooking, baptism is the foundation of our life as sons and daughters of God. By our baptism we are all, in a special way, called and loved by the Heavenly Father. Therefore we must believe and follow the promises from our baptism and walk in the way of Our Lord. We must pray that we may be the hands and feet of Our Lord to this world which yearns for God and peace.
-Fr. Paul Yi