What do you think was the most important day of your life?
Was it the day you were born?
Or maybe when you graduated from school?
Or when you met your sweetheart? Or when you were married?
Or do you have four or five most important days:
when each of your children were born?
Was mine when I was ordained as a priest?
No: as very special as all those are,
none of those was the most important day of your life.
The most important day of your life – and mine –
was the day we were baptized;
because that is when you were given eternal life!
You and I were joined to the life of the Holy Trinity
And we became citizens of heaven.
That changes everything.
What does that have to do with the flood in the first reading?
The flood washes away everything that is hostile to the life of God;
everything that separates and distracts us from God.
And that is what baptism does, too.
So how do we get from a flood to the desert?
When you wash away everything that commands our attention,
that seems urgent but actually isn’t as important as we think;
when all that is gone, what’s left?
The confrontation between good and evil that we see in the Gospel.
But what’s important is that it is Jesus facing the devil.
He’s squaring off in the battle each of us faces.
The point is, he’s facing our enemy – on our behalf.
When humanity faced the devil the first time, what happened?
We lost. Our hope was destroyed.
So, as St. John Henry Newman said,
“A second Adam to the fight and to the rescue came.”
You and I still face our ancient foe, day by day;
but we need not do so alone. Jesus wades into battle on our behalf!
That’s what Good Friday and the Cross are about.
Jesus had a choice; he said, let the cup pass,
but if not, thy will be done!
Once again, that is what baptism is about:
you and I being joined to Jesus: we take up his cross;
And he takes up the battle on our behalf.
That’s why we recall our own baptism today,
and why we will do that in a solemn way in six weeks on Easter.
Someone once told me, always have an action item in a homily.
So here it is: you have six weeks of Lent
to discover the power and reality of your own baptism –
the most important day of your life.
Go to confession: return to the purity of your baptism.
Renew the vows made for you; make them for yourself.
On the day of your baptism, you were set on the path toward heaven.
It’s always a good idea to recheck your heavenly GPS
And make sure you know where you are headed.