Welcome to Saint Mary’s Church, Harborne, Birmingham, UK.

Order of St. Augustine.

Archdiocese of Birmingham

“Before all else, live together in harmony, being of one mind and one heart on the way to God.”  St. Augustine.

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                                    Fr. Bernard O’Connor’s Homily

                                    for Sunday 12th January 2020

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Baptism of the Lord.

Matt. 3: 13-17.


In the divine office for the feast of the Epiphany which we celebrated last Sunday, antiphons refer to the threefold manifestation of Jesus, namely to the Magi, but also on the occasion  of his baptism, and also at the wedding feast in Cana.


I was puzzled at first as to why the other occasions were mentioned, until I remembered that ‘Epiphany’ means manifestation, the occasions in this case when Jesus manifested his real nature, namely that he was the Son of God made man.


We remember that the Magi had followed the star that led them to the King of the Jews and how they worshipped him with incense, recognising God in this infant.


At the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus changed water into wine, which John in his Gospel describes as ‘the first of his signs by which he manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him’. 

Changing the water into wine was indeed a sign of his divine nature, but the replacing of water by wine was itself a statement of something new, something greater, the water of the old order being replaced by the richness of wine, the new order.


Today we celebrate the baptism of Jesus, and how, when he had been baptised by the waters of the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove and a voice fro, heaven proclaimed, ‘This is my Son, my beloved, listen to him.’

This proclaimed beyond doubt who Jesus really was, the Son of God made man.


Jesus had humbly joined the queue of thjose waiting to be baptised by John, and in spite of John;s protestations, submitted to the waters of the Jordan.  It was then that the Holy Spirit descended on him and the voice from heaven manifested him.

He was now about to begin his public ministry.  As an adult, he had left the privacy of his family life.


He would now call the people to repent for the Kingdom of heaven was at hand – the gold of the Magis’ presents; he would subtly hint that he was the Son of God – the incense of the Magi.

He preached a Gospel of mercy, of forgiveness of sin, of love even of one’s enemies, of generosity of spirit, in a way that challenged the old order and aroused the hostility of those in authority, to the point where they decided they had to get rid of him, which led to his passion and death – the third of the Magis’ presents, the myrrh.


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