The God of the Unexpected A homily for baptism of an infant

The Baptism of Christ by the Circle of Francesco Albani
The Baptism of Christ by the Circle of Francesco Albani

This homily was delivered in class at Notre Dame Seminary on Friday, September 4, 2015. This one is shorter than most because we were asked to prepare a 3 minute homily to use for a baptism liturgy. Aubree is actually the daughter of a friend I used since I wanted to have a name to include in the homily.

Here’s the homily (if you want to read it, and not just listen):

In Les Miserables, Jean Valjean, a convict who has finally received parole after 19 years, is taken in for a night by the humble Bishop of Digne. In the dark of night, Valjean robs the house and takes off. He is caught as he flees and brought back to answer to the bishop for his crime. But the Bishop does something unexpected. He lies to the police and tells them that the silver which Valjean stole was a gift. Once the police are gone, he turns to Valjean and says this:

“My brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I buy; I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.”

You have come here today to ask the Church to baptize Aubree. In that act you are doing the same. At the same time, though, you are doing so much more for your daughter. You are not using your own money or gifts like the simple bishop, did, though. You are asking the Church to ransom her at the price of the blood of Jesus Christ. Because of the fall of Adam, each of us, was born with our soul marred by sin even though we are, ourselves, are too young and innocent to actually sin. Like the Bishop, though, God did something unexpected; instead of allowing us to forever pay up for the fall of our first parents, he gave us the gift of his own Holy Spirit to make us his adopted children – he not only overcame original sin, but he offered a spiritual perfection beyond even that of Adam and Eve.

When Jesus rose from the waters of the Jordan in John’s baptism, the Father called him “beloved son.” In the blood of Christ and the waters of Baptism, God says the same to each of us. Today, in just a few minutes, he will say the same to Aubree. He redeems her, forgives the stain of original sin, and adopts her in his own blood. Your daughter is no longer only yours, but a daughter of God and a child of his Church. That sonship that Christ has in his own nature will be shared with your daughter by adoption.

You must realize, though, that such adoption comes with responsibilities. You commit to raising Aubree in the faith and teaching her. You commit to guide her, teach her right from wrong, and bring her up to know not only you, her natural parents, but her adoptive father, also. It is a great responsibility, but it comes with a great reward. At the end of her days, Aubrey will hear the Father say, “You are my beloved daughter; with you I am well pleased.”

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