|SUNDAY HOMILIES FOR YEAR B|
|By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp|
|Homily for 2nd Sunday of Easter - on the Gospel|
The Two Baptisms
|Acts 4:32-35||1 John 5:1-6||John 20:19-31|
A story is told of King Aengus, the legendary king of Ireland and his baptism by St Patrick. At the baptismal ceremony, the bishop moved his sharp-pointed crosier (staff) and inadvertently pierced the king’s foot. The king did not move or complain. At the end of the ceremony, Patrick looked down and saw the pool of blood at the king’s foot. Realizing what had happened, he begged the king’s pardon and then asked why the king had said nothing after his foot was pierced. The king’s answer was “I thought it was part of the ritual.” The king was obviously mistaken, yet he had a point. Baptism is not just a matter of water only; it is a matter of water and blood.
The gospels recount the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan at the beginning of his public ministry (Mark 1; Matthew 3; Luke 3). Yet later, we hear Jesus saying that he still had another baptism with which he would be baptized (Luke 12:50). He was speaking of the climactic events of his life, his suffering and death on the cross. That was his other baptism. Not a baptism of water but a baptism of blood. When James and John came to him asking for reserved seats at his right hand and at his left, he warned them that the big challenge of following him was accepting this painful baptism of blood. Jesus asked them, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:38). Today’s 2nd reading from the 1st Letter of John stresses the point that Jesus Christ “came by water and blood ... not by water alone, but by water and blood” (1 John 5:6).
Easter is a time to relive and renew our baptism. Today’s 2nd reading reminds us that our baptism, like the baptism of Jesus, is not just a water ceremony but also a blood commitment, a commitment unto death. Baptism by water takes but a few minutes, baptism by blood is a life-long commitment. By baptism with water we become children of God, by baptism with blood we fight the daily battle of being and living the life of God’s sons and daughters in a world that accepts, celebrates, and rewards non-godly values. The passage, therefore, tries to show the practical implications in daily life of the new relationship that Christians have with God through baptism.
The passage begins: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (1 John 5:1). Then it proceeds to show us in practical terms what it means to be born of God. “For whoever is born of God conquers the world” (verse 4). Here we see a direct connection between believing and behaving. Being a born again child of God is not just a badge of honour. It is also a banner of responsibility. It means that we have been empowered to challenge the world and its values and to emerge victorious.
There are two central pillars of the Christian life: faith and love. Having explained what faith means in practical life, overcoming the world, John now goes on to show what love means.
everyone who loves the parent loves the child. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments (1 John 5:1b-3).
For John love means loving God and all of God’s children. Spiritual love of God shows itself in practical concern for our brothers and sisters. God’s commandment is that we love our neighbour, our fellow members of God’s family. Fellow members of God’s household include our fellow church members, all who are baptized into Christ, and all men and women everywhere, created in God’s image and likeness as we are. For “The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). Therefore, all men and women are our brothers and sisters. And, as John tells us elsewhere, “Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20).
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