Homily for the Sacrament of Baptism

Many Catholics are not aware that the Church considers certain persons from the pages of the Old Testament to be saints.  Each of these saints has a feast day, although sadly, these feast days for some reason are not celebrated at Holy Mass.

Nonetheless, these saints and their feast days are included in one of the Church’s liturgical books, titled the Roman Martyrology.  In the pages of this book, we read that the feast of Saint Jeremiah is May 1st.  His entry in the Roman Martyrology reads as follows:

Commemoration of Saint Jeremiah, prophet, who, in the time of Joiakim and Zedekiah, kings of Judah, foretelling the destruction of the Holy City and the deportation of the people, suffered many persecutions; for this reason the Church saw in him the figure of the suffering Christ.  He also foretold the fulfilment of the new and everlasting Covenant in Jesus Christ, by which the almighty Father would write his law in the depths of the hearts of the children of Israel, so that he would be their God and they would be his people.

The conclusion of this entry is an allusion to a verse from one of the two Old Testament books that St. Jeremiah wrote.  We hear in the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 31, Verse 33:  “… this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord:  I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

That covenant that Jeremiah prophesied about was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when Christ’s Church was born.  That’s the Church which, in a few minutes, Jeremiah will enter through the Sacrament of Baptism.

Every member of Christ’s Church bears a share in the Church’s three-fold mission, continuing Christ’s work on earth.  Every member of the Church is responsible for carrying out, in his or her day and age, the mission of the priest, the mission of the prophet, and the mission of the shepherd king.

Today, the newly baptized Jeremiah will take upon himself the mission of being a priest, who like Jesus and through the grace of Jesus, offers self-sacrifice each day.  Today Jeremiah will take on the mission of being a prophet—like his patron saint—who in charity speaks the truth in season and out of season, when convenient and when inconvenient.  And today Jeremiah will take on the mission of the shepherd king, growing each day—we pray—in wisdom and grace3 like the Christ Child, becoming ready for a life of service through whichever vocation God chooses for him upon this earth.