Archbishop Lahham: 'May the baptism of Jesus and our baptism guide us towards God'Read Now
Following is the text of the homily delivered by Latin Patriarchal Vicar of Jordan Archbishop Maroun Lahham at the Mass marking the national Christian pilgrimage of the Catholic Churches in Jordan to Lord Jesus Christ's Baptism Site which has been observed since 2000:
Distinguished parents, nuns, and believers,
You are welcome to participate in this national and religious feast, namely the feast marking the Baptism of Christ, at the very site where Jesus Christ was baptized. Today, we are marking a celebration in a sacred place. It is the place where the good tidings were disseminated marking the emergence of the Christian faith. The immaculate Lord Jesus Christ was baptized by John. Then, the voice of the God Father came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him.”
I do not want to focus today so much on the baptism of Lord Christ as I want to talk about the words of the Father that came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him.” Jesus Christ often mentioned God in His public life and calls Him "Father". The relationship of love between the Son and the Father is corroborated by the voice of the Father who calls Lord Christ "My beloved Son". We can neither understand the Christian faith nor Christian life unless we first understand that Christianity is based on love. The love is reciprocated by the Father and the Son who conveys this love to all those who accepted Him, and thus makes them children of God. Through baptism we get into the core of this relationship, the loving relationship that combines the Father, the Son, and is embodied in the Holy Spirit that serves as the loving relationship between them. In baptism, every one of us became a loving son of God. Through baptism every one of us carries within himself the seed of adherence to holiness which matures and grows in time and makes us walk in the path of righteousness and holiness that God has drawn to everyone according to one's way in life. All the baptized are called upon to walk in the path of holiness. Furthermore, all the baptized must avoid everything that goes against or impedes their march towards holiness. With baptism we become brothers of Lord Jesus Christ, thus we have to behave as He behaved by living as He lived as well as continuously fulfill and abide by the will of the Father. With baptism they become living members of the Church. The Church gives us faith, watches over faith, strengthens our faith, and helps us grow in faith. No one believes, receives salvation, or perishes on one's own. St. Paul says that Christians are one integrated body; if one part suffers every part suffers with it. We accepted all of these blessings and obligations without being aware of that because we were baptized since infancy. This is what we call the traditional ancestral faith. Yet, whenever Christians become advanced in age and grace, they must become aware of the obligations imposed by baptism and accept them every day. This is what we call the personal faith of adults.
The Father said: “This is my beloved Son… listen to Him.” The term "listen to Him" implies walking in His footsteps, following His example, and keeping His commandments. The beloved Son is the guide to the faithful who proceed on the hard, long and arduous road of sanctity. This is what Lord Jesus Christ said repeatedly as reported in the Holy Bible. He said: "Whoever keeps My commands is the one who loves Me." It is not enough to keep the commandments since “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven." How can one behave according to the will of the Father who is in heaven? This can be done by viewing love as the first motive in our lives and all our actions. We have to purify ourselves from within of impurity and malice, strife, pride, envy and gossip. We have to follow the commandments of Lord Jesus Christ continuously, by placing God on the top of our priorities over wealth, presage, pleasure, and all the temptations of life.
Brothers and sisters,
Our first feeling today is joy, jubilation and celebration. Today is a major feast. The second feeling is a sense of responsibility laid by baptism on our shoulders. It is a responsibility to live a true Christian life. The responsibility lies in the testimony of faith that we acquired through faith. It is the responsibility in the continuous growth of faith so as to hear the voice of the Father telling us as He had told Lord Jesus Christ: "This is my beloved Son."
On this blessed morning, we greet the Jordanian family that is addressed by the name of this holy river. From Jordan, and on the side of the river, we pray for love and peace in the region and in the entire world. Our greetings go to His Majesty King Abdullah II Bin Al-Hussein, the Jordanian family, Muslims and Christians. May God save the King, keep Jordan, and preserve our precious national unity.
Dear brothers, may the baptism of Lord Jesus and our baptism serve as a light that guides us in our march towards God, our Creator, and our Redeemer. In the end, we thank all those who contributed to the success of this religious celebration. We thank the civil authorities, namely the security and police apparatuses and all the civilian officials. We thank Minister of Tourism and Antiquity Lina Annab, Director of the Baptism Site Engineer Suleiman Freijat, scouts, clergymen and the Russian Pilgrims' Reception House that welcomes us every year.
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