Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan
“Holy Baptism is the
basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway of life in the Spirit (vitae
spiritualis ianua) and the door which
gives access to the other sacraments.
Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we
become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in
her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through the water in the
word.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1213)
This short but substantial paragraph
taken from the catechism of the Catholic Church gives us abundant food for
thought to masticate and digest as the Church celebrates the Baptism of Jesus,
concluding the Christmas season of joy!
The Liturgical celebration of the
Baptism of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ should prompt us and motivate us to
review our own Baptism, its meaning as well as its obligation for us.
We would like to offer five short but
very practical suggestions on how we can renew our own Baptismal commitment as
we contemplate Jesus being baptized by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan River. In His Baptism the sublime mystery of the
Blessed Trinity is revealed--- “A Trinitarian theophany”. The Father’s voice is heard; the Son (Jesus)
descends into the waters of the Jordan; the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus in
the form of a dove.” (Mt. 3:13-17)
SIGN OF THE CROSS. One of the most noteworthy signs of belonging
to the Christian-Catholic faith is the Sign of the Cross. Every time we make
the sign of the cross we profess our belief in the Mystery of the Blessed
Trinity---- One God in three separate and distinct Persons: the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit. This should be
a brief moment when we call to mind our own Baptism and the dignity that flows
from that sacred moment. As the
Baptismal waters trickled off our forehead and the words of Baptism were
pronounced by the priest or deacon, gifts in abundance descended into our
souls. We became a son of God, brother
to Jesus Christ and friend to the Holy Spirit.
For this reason Pope St. Leo the Great exhorts us: “Christians recognize
your dignity.” It all started at the
moment of Baptism!
Find out your baptismal date and your family members!
YOUR BAPTISMAL DATE. If you do not know the specific date of your
Baptism or the dates of the Baptisms of your children, why not look it up this
week. Celebrate! As human persons we are called to celebrate!
Wedding anniversaries, birthdays, Holidays—all are moments to celebrate. Why
not add a new category? Baptism
dates! As a catechetical tool parents
can surely catechize their children by calling to mind their child’s baptism in
the context of a celebration. Why not buy a cake and candles. However, go
beyond the eating and singing. Explain to the child the “why” of this
celebration! This was your second
birthday. You were born of water and the
spirit on the day of your baptism. You became a child of God; you entered into
a new family, the Church, the People of God!
Holy water is a reminder of our Baptism!
HOLY WATER. Use holy water often! Upon entering the
church it is a good habit to sign yourself with holy water. At home before
retiring every night it is a good habit for parents to bless their children in
the name of the Blessed Trinity with holy water. Once again call to mind your
own baptism every time holy water is sprinkled! St. Teresa of Avila states that
the use of holy water is a powerful means to expel the devil from your
presence! In our Baptism the
priest/deacon carried out a minor exorcism! Our Baptismal grace far exceeds the
power of the devil!
Pope Benedict baptizes!
BAPTISMS. Every time you attend the Sacrament of
Baptism, once again call to mind your own Baptism. Baptism calls us to renounce
the devil and all his pomps, as well as sin as our mortal enemy number one! If
you are called to be a Sponsor, even more should the renewal of our baptismal
promises be reinforced! Both parents and
godparents are called to live out the symbol of the Paschal candle and the
smaller candle. That means that Jesus is the principal LIGHT, but we are called
to take from His light and share this light to the whole world especially the
godchildren that God has entrusted to us!
Once again allow the words of St. Leo the Great to echo in the depths of
your heart: “Christians recognize your dignity.”
St. Francis Xavier baptizing!
MISSIONARY CALL AND SUMMONS. Before ascending into heaven Jesus gave to
the Apostles as well as to us our marching orders, our mission, our task to
carry out. Read slowly and meditate on Jesus’ last words: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore,
and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all
that I commanded you. And behold I am with you always, until the end of the
28:18-20). The message! It could not be clearer! Jesus summons all
the baptized to bring the grace of their own baptism to the entire world. The
grace of God, the presence of the Trinity is not meant to be hidden under the bushel-basket
but to shine and to be shared with the entire world!
Let us conclude by listening to the
consoling words of Pope Benedict XVI: “Through
Baptism each child is inserted into a gathering of friends who never abandon
him in life or in death…This group of friends, this family of God, into which
the child is now admitted, will always accompany him, even on days of suffering
and in life’s dark nights; it will give him consolation, comfort and light.” (Pope
Benedict XVI, January 8, 2006—taken from the “YOU-CAT # 193)
Jesus in the Jordan!
With these words from the Holy Father
and practical advice, let us strive to live out our Baptism to the fullest extent
possible—to become shining stars of holiness, reflecting the Light of Christ!