Homily of the month
God’s favor rests upon us
God said to each of us at our Baptism: "You are my beloved child. On you my favor rests." My favor. My grace. My love. God says these same things to the child who is about to be baptized, writes Father Gregory Apparcel, C.S.P. in our featured homily for Baptism.
PREPARE THE WORD's library includes insightful sample homilies for funerals, sacraments, holy and feast days, and special occasions. We regularly add new homilies to the mix. Feel free to submit a homily you've written or from someone on your parish preaching team that you want to offer for consideration. Send homilies to email@example.com.
Readings: Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22
"YOU ARE MY BELOVED CHILD. On you my favor rests." That's what God said on the day Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River. God's favor. God's grace. God's love. Those words and the action of the Baptism itself inspired Jesus to begin his mission: to go about doing good works and healing all who were in the grip of the devil, and to be a person of compassion, like a shepherd gathering the lambs in his arms.
God said the same thing to each of us at our Baptism. "You are my beloved child. On you my favor rests." My favor. My grace. My love. God says these same things to this child who is about to be baptized.
There are times when we forget these words. When we forget the enormous grace and love and care that is behind us. We forget how important we each are and how much our life—our words and actions—affect the people we touch, the people who have been put into our care in various ways, and who have cared and loved us.
Most of us here present do not remember our own Baptism, unless we were baptized when we were older than this baby. Participating in this liturgy today reminds us what a powerful moment that was. God's favor, God's grace, God's love continue to empower us today. Our own Baptism may have happened long ago, but it was not a one-time event. Baptism is a continual process. It is now. It is every day. And every day God's favor rests up on us.
The grace that God bestowed on us at our Baptism is a grace God continues to give us throughout our lives in our experience of community, and of the sacraments. For Baptism makes us part of the Christian community. Baptism welcomes this child, incorporates her, initiates her into this community, and the community, represented by all of us, embraces her and holds her close to our hearts.
The grace that God bestowed on us at our Baptism is a grace God continues to give us throughout our lives in our experience of community, and of the sacraments.
One of the physical, religious gestures we pass on to our children is the Sign of the Cross. Sometimes it takes a while for them to get the hang of it, almost as difficult as learning how to tie a shoe. Sometimes we do it without even thinking about it. We often see it done in World War II movies, in football games, or when we are in our most dire need. We bless ourselves with holy water whenever we enter a church as a reminder that we were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. These are the same words we will use to baptize this baby. The words we use at the beginning and end of the Eucharist. The words a couple say when they exchange rings on their wedding day, or when the sick or the dying are anointed.
The Sign of the Cross itself is an outward, external gesture of something internal and full of mystery. We touch our head, our mind, our place of wisdom. We touch our stomach, our gut, the place where our emotions often are most strongly felt. We touch our shoulders, where we carry our burdens. We bless ourselves with the names of God. This child as she grows up will ask, "What does it mean?" She can be told that she is speaking the different names for God, the different ways of talking about God. "Look at you," you can tell her, "your name is N." You have three names. You are a daughter, a sister, a niece, and a granddaughter. One day you'll do some special work, make some contribution to your community and to the world, some significant way of serving others. One day you may be a wife and a mother. And a friend. All of this is you. And so we talk of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and all of this is God.
N. will learn and grow in her experience of God. It is all of our responsibility to nurture this growth within her. We do this by our presence here today. We continue to do this by our words and example throughout her life. She was born and created in the image and likeness of God, and in a few moments she will become part of the Christian community, God's holy people. She will be freed from sin and given a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit. Anointed with the chrism of salvation, she will always live as a member of the Body of Christ, sharing everlasting life. She is God's beloved child, and God's favor rests upon her.