January 10, 2021 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community, Palm Springs, CA
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Isaiah 55:1-11 | Psalm 12:2-6
Acts 10:34-38 | Mark 1:7-11

+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.

Today is the first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B and it is also the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It marks the end of the Christmas season and all our Christmas trees and decorations have been put away until next year.

I’d like to share the story of two Protestant pastors and one Catholic priest talking about the problem of cats invading their churches.

The Baptist minister said he put the cats in bags and threw them in a nearby river. In spite of that, the cats survived and there were twice as many there the next week.

The Methodist minister said they were not in a position to harm any of God’s creations. So he confided they humanely trapped the cats and set them free many miles outside town. But three days later, the cats were back!

But the Catholic priest bragged that he had the best and most effective solution: He said, “I simply baptized them and I haven’t seen them in church since then.”

This story is a joke but it’s also a sad reality that after baptism, many Christians are never seen in church again except on Christmas and Easter.

How many of you remember your baptism? If you were an infant, you probably do not, but since I was twelve years old at the time of my baptism at the First Presbyterian Church in Livingston, New Jersey, I remember it well.

The Baptismal covenant that we use here at Saint Cecilia Catholic Community is found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. Even though we’re not Episcopalians, we use the Baptismal Covenant as a helpful small catechism during the rite of initiation into the Church.

Basically, it states what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It is a list of questions and answers that express the ways each faithful follower will live their life.

The first three questions are reflective of the Apostles’ Creed and are organized according to the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:

Presider: Do you believe in God the Father?

People: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Presider: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

People: I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day, He rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Presider: Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?

People: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Next, there are six questions regarding how Christians are called to live out their faith.

Presider: Will you continue in the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers?

This means going to church regularly, either virtually or in person, and participating in the life of the church community.

People: I will with God’s help.

Presider: Will you persevere in resisting evil, and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

We can resist evil by:

–being confident in the triumph of good over evil

–confessing our sins

–resisting the devil

People: I will with God’s help.

Presider: Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?

We can proclaim the Good News by:

–offering encouragement to those ill or in need

–confessing our faith through song in worship

–we have to “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk”

People: I will with God’s help.

Presider: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

We can do this by:

–loving all of humanity, respecting everyone

–forgiving as we have been forgiven by God

People: I will with God’s help.

Presider: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”

As we seek justice and peace, we can:

–pray for peace among all nations and peoples

–begin a “Go Green” initiative in our community

–this one is the most challenging for many people

People: I will with God’s help.

In theological terms, the word “covenant” is of Latin origin (con venire) meaning a coming together. The preferred meaning of this Old Testament word is bond: two or more parties bound together.

Our baptismal covenants are probably the most important promises we make to God and we renew them each week as we partake of the sacrament of Holy Communion.

In today\’s first reading from Isaiah, God invites us all to come to Jesus, the living water. It is in the name of Christ in which we are baptized. This invitation is for everyone who is open to the salvation God offers us through His Son, Jesus. It is a call to believe in Jesus, the living water.

Living water is a biblical term that appears in both the Old and New Testaments. It symbolizes both the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. God is called the source of the living water and life. Through the prophet Isaiah, God calls us all to come to the waters:, “Everyone who thirsts, come to the water…And you who have no money, come, receive grain and eat.”

In today’s second reading from Acts, Peter proclaims that the Good News is for everyone, not only the Jews. God accepts everyone from all nations, all religions, and all walks of life.

Today’s Gospel from St. Mark tells us about Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist. Jesus is inviting us all to come to the water He offers to us. By this, He means to come to faith, come to conversion, come receive the riches and rewards He offers to us for a new and better life.

Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. There is only one God and the Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith. The Holy Trinity is a mystery of faith which can never be known unless revealed by God. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be adopted as children of God and receive eternal communion in heaven with the three Persons of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *