Wading in the Troubled Water Saves You, Not Taking a Bridge Over It – A Homily for the Baptism of the Lord

Today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord provides a moment to reflect not only on the Lord’s baptism, but also on our own. For in an extended sense, when Christ is baptized, so are we, for we are members of His body. As Christ enters the water, He makes holy the water that will baptize us. He enters the water and we follow. And in these waters He acquires gifts to give us, as we shall see below.

Why was Jesus baptized? It has been asked in every generation why Christ sought baptism. The baptism of John surely pointed to sin, of which Christ  had none. The question has been well answered by the Father and many others. In effect, Christ descended into those waters; He troubled those waters, stirring them up to make them holy for our sakes. And by this descent, which points to the Paschal mystery, obtained manifold blessings for us. St. Maximus of Turin speaks of Christ’s baptism this way:

I understand the mystery as this. The column of fire went before the sons of Israel through the Red Sea so that they could follow on their brave journey; the column went first through the waters to prepare a path for those who followed. … But Christ the Lord does all these things: in the column of fire He went through the sea before the sons of Israel; so now in the column of his body he goes through baptism before the Christian people. … At the time of the Exodus the column … made a pathway through the waters; now it strengthens the footsteps of faith in the bath of baptism (de sancta Epiphania 1.3).

So Christ, as it were, opens a way for us by troubling the waters, just as He did at the Red Sea,  and obtains for us victory over our spiritual enemies.  He brings us forth to freedom on the other side. He is baptized for us. Ephesians 5:30 says, we are members of Christ’s body. Thus when Jesus goes into the water, we go with Him. And in going there, He stirs up the water; He troubles the water for us, acquiring gifts on our behalf.

Don’t be afraid of troubled waters; there is a blessing on the other side. A songwriter once spoke of seeking a bridge over troubled waters. Biblically, this is poor advice. For it is only by going through, or wading into, the troubled waters that the blessing is found. More on this in a moment. For now, simply observe that Christ wades in, troubles the water, and obtains blessings for us out of the troubled waters.

And what are the gifts He obtains for us? The texts speak of them somewhat figuratively, but clearly. In effect, there are four gifts spoken of in the Gospel descriptions of Jesus’ baptism:

  1. Access – the heavens are opened. The heavens and paradise had been closed to us after Original Sin. But now, at Jesus’ baptism, the text says that the heavens are opened. Jesus acquires the gift of sanctifying grace for us. And by this grace, the heavens open for us and we have access to the Father and to the heavenly places. Scripture says, Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand (Romans 5:1). It also says, For through Jesus we have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph 2:17). Hence the heavens are also opened at our own baptism and we have access to the Father.
  2. Anointing – the Spirit of God descends on him like a dove. Here, too, Jesus acquires the gift of the Holy Spirit for us. In baptism, we are not just washed of sins, we also become temples of the Holy Spirit. After baptism, there is the anointing with chrism, which signifies the presence of the Holy Spirit. For adults, this is Confirmation. But even for infants, there is an anointing at baptism to recognize that the Spirit of God dwells in the baptized as in a temple. Scripture says, Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16)
  3. Acknowledgment – this is my beloved Son. Jesus receives this acknowledgment from His Father. He allowed this to be heard by some of the bystanders for the sake of their own faith. But He also  acquires this gift for us. In our own baptism, we become the children of God. Since we become members of Christ’s body, we now have the status of sons of God. On the day of your baptism, the heavenly Father acknowledged you as His own dear Child. Scripture says, You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Gal 3:26).
  4. Approval – I am well pleased. Jesus had always pleased His Father. But now He acquires this gift for you as well. Here, too, is another acknowledgment of the sanctifying grace that the Lord gives us in baptism. Sanctifying grace is the gift to be holy and pleasing to God. Scripture says, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:1-3).

Thus, at His baptism, Christ acquired these gifts for us, so that at the troubled, stirred up water of our own baptism, we could receive them. Consider well the glorious gift of your baptism. Perhaps you know the exact day. It should be a day as highly celebrated as your birthday. Christ is baptized for our sakes, not His own. All these gifts had always been His. Now, in His baptism, He fulfills God’s righteousness by going into the water to get them for you. It’s alright to say, “Hallelujah!”

This video I put together shows that God has a way of bringing blessings when He troubles the water.

He troubled the waters in the great flood to cleanse the earth,
He troubled the waters at the Red Sea to bring forth victorious escape and freedom from oppression,
He troubled the waters in the desert to satisfy the Israelites,
He troubled the waters of the Jordan so they could enter the promised land,
Jesus troubled the waters at His baptism and obtained many a gift for us,
And from the troubled waters of His pierced side came salvation and the Holy Spirit.

So don’t build a bridge over troubled waters; wade on in! There’s a blessing on the other side.

3 Replies to “Wading in the Troubled Water Saves You, Not Taking a Bridge Over It – A Homily for the Baptism of the Lord”

  1. The development of China’s water treatment agents is
    developed with the introduction of modern water treatment technology.
    The development time is about 30 years later than the developed countries, but the development speed is fast.
    It has formed a system of independent research and development, industrialization.

    Water treatment chemicals are mainly used in municipal water treatment, electric power,
    oil and gas, metallurgy, chemical industry, food and beverage,
    paper making, desalination, and other fields. Electric power,
    oil, and gas, metallurgy, the chemical industry is an important pillar industry in the national economy, and its corresponding water
    treatment agent market stability is high. High industrial demand, strict environmental protection requirements to promote China’s water treatment agent industry’s development.

    1、The specific classification of China’s water treatment chemicals industry

    Water treatment refers to the need to deal with the water quality, the use of different water treatment supply
    and demand and chemicals so that water quality meets the production, life, and environmental requirements of the whole process.
    The application areas can be divided into industrial water treatment and domestic water treatment.
    Water treatment methods are mainly physical, chemical, and biological methods.

    The water treatment chemical method refers to chemical agents used to eliminate and prevent scale,
    corrosion, the reproduction of bacteria and algae, and water purification treatment technology.

    Chemical water treatment technology is currently recognized
    at home and abroad as the most common and effective means of
    industrial water conservation.

    According to the production technology classification, there are two main types of water treatment chemicals in China:
    one is a chemical with a clear molecular structure and compound name.
    This product belongs to the fine chemicals, generally
    known as single-agent products; second is the water treatment chemicals
    compound prescription products, this product does not
    have a clear molecular structure and compound name, generally to its use, performance characteristics (often crowned by the brand) named, such as corrosion inhibitors,
    scale inhibitors, biocides, flocculants. Scale inhibitors, biocides, flocculants,
    pre-film agents, etc.

    According to the classification of its mechanism of action, the main varieties of water treatment chemicals are flocculants,
    corrosion inhibitors, scale inhibitors, dispersion agents, algaecides, and other auxiliary agents.

  2. My precious granddaughter, Honora Marie, was born yesterday at 32 weeks gestation via emergency c- section. She was baptized and confirmed by Fr. Bjorn Lundberg. Thank you, Msgr. Pope, for this inspiring message. We have a new little Catholic in our family! Please pray for her improvement and for my daughter Stacey and son-in-law John. Thank you, also, for all of your wonderful Institute of Catholic Culture presentations. I try never to miss them.

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