Baptism of the Lord, Year A
January 8, 2017.
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Matthew 3:13-17.
The command to baptize people in the name of the trinity – father, son and spirit- given by Jesus Christ to his disciples, is a bold step towards redemption. This command comes after the resurrection, when Jesus Christ has won the battle over death by victimization. He gave the command to baptize i.e. making his apostles to understand that there must be a new way of being human if death by victimization is to be overcome. The baptism established by Jesus Christ is founded on the event of the cross and the resurrection. The very weapons he used for the glorious battle over death by victimization.
Christian baptism is an entry into a new life in Christ. The old life that is characterized by victimization mentality must give way to the new life that founded on love, forgiveness and peace. The Christian baptism that we celebrate is founded on the two events that brought us salvation through Jesus Christ – the crucifixion and the resurrection. Jesus Christ experienced the very worst of human justice by being condemned to die on the cross based of the testimonies of a manipulated majority. A majority who had no knowledge of his crime, but hated him without cause. Hating without cause or reason is a human reality that befalls anyone condemned by the ‘crowd’. Innocent victims are simple killed or expelled based on the unanimity of the crowd in order to establish a peace that does not last. Thus the old life of establishing peace by victimization is destroyed by the events of the cross and the resurrection in order to establish peace by forgiveness – self-donation.
The baptism we celebrate in today’s liturgy reminds us of the self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He gave in to victimization on the cross in order to reveal this evil that eludes human consciousness – hating without cause. It is only after involvement in the lynching (gossip, calumny, rumor, aversion) of one linked with the crisis that we become aware of what we have done. A mere mention of the word ‘thief’ automatically attracts our anger and hatred. In order to end this evil, he forgave his executioners and conspirators on the grounds that they do not understand what they have done. As such the grace to forgive one another, borne out of the new life of baptism reveal the evil of victimization. The strength of this evil lies in its ability to elude human consciousness. Once revealed, it loses its power. Only forgiveness can reveal it.
The grace of baptism initiates humanity into a new life that emphasizes love and forgiveness. We possess in us a reality that ‘hates without cause’, but the grace of baptism resurrects us into a consciousness that is able to overcome this reality. A consciousness of love rather that hatred; a consciousness of inclusion by forgiveness rather than expulsion by victimization.
Anthony Ekpunobi, CM.