Homily for the Friday before Epiphany
Those of you who follow along with the readings for Mass see that we had a couple of options for our Gospel this morning. I decided on the option from Matthew, it happens to be Matthew’s account of the Baptism of the Lord, a feast we will celebrate on Monday and officially bring the Christmas season to a close.
This particular passage kind of provides us with the bookends for what we have celebrated over the last few weeks. It begins by reminding us of the message that we heard throughout the Advent season – that John was the precursor for the Messiah, that he was the one sent before the Lord to prepare the way. John was the one who gave witness to Jesus and, through that witness, helped prepare the hearts of others to receive the message of the Gospel.
For the other side of the bookends, this passage is also helping us to prepare for that feast of the Baptism of the Lord, a feast in which the Father and the Holy Spirit give testimony to the identity and mission of Jesus. That also connects us to our first reading, which gives us kind of a synopsis on the Trinity and the importance of belief in Jesus.
As we sit with these readings from Scripture, there is one question that I think we should really be asking ourselves – and, I think, it would be a great question for us to pray with a bit today. The question: do we believe that Jesus is the Messiah? I mean TRULY believe…with every ounce and fiber of our being.
Of course, we all know in our heads that Jesus is the Son of God, that He came to save the world from sin and death, that He opened the way for us to return to the house of the Father and to dwell there for all Eternity. And yet, at times, when things get difficult in life, when things get challenging, so many of us fall into despair. We struggle to believe that Jesus is in the midst of those things with us; we often doubt that Jesus is God. When we struggle with sinful thoughts and desires, when we give into temptation, deep down it might just be a bit of a lack of faith in Jesus; we sometimes do not believe that He will see us through those temptations or give us the strength to fight against them.
Just as John the Baptist challenged the people of his day to repentance, to conversion, to open their hearts to receive Jesus, so, too, are we being challenged by that message. We are being reminded that welcoming Jesus into our lives isn’t just a one-time thing; it isn’t something that we do only on Christmas; it is something that we have to do each and every day. Because when we have faith in Jesus, when we truly believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, it leads us to the fullness of life. So today, may all of us ask the Lord for the grace of deeper faith in Jesus, that faith in Him will lead us to a deeper encounter with the Father’s love, that it will bring us to salvation, to Eternal Life and everlasting peace in Heaven.