The Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Is 40:1-5, 9-11, Psalm 29:1-4, 9-10, Acts 10:34-38; Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7, & Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
After being ordained, one of the first gifts I received was a book, 'The Rite of Baptism for Children.' The book contains all of the prayers and readings for this sacrament. Inside the back cover is the name of the first child I baptized. It was an important day for Santino James and me, too. Santino, which means 'little saint,' is perfect. Of course, today, we are reminded that this is where it all began because the Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord. It was an important day for Jesus, John the Baptist, and all of us since baptism is our first Sacrament of Initiation.
Baptism was the beginning of Christ's public ministry. For us, our baptism marks the beginning of our lives as Christians. Most of us were baptized as infants, and we do not remember it. If you have witnessed a baptism as a parent, godparent, family member, or friend looking on, you appreciate the beautiful ceremony. As we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, it is the perfect opportunity for us to notice what we may have been missing. I believe it comes down to what I would like to call 'The Three C's of Baptism,' which are Creation, Commitment, and Community.
Creation: The baptism ritual begins with a question, "What name do you give your child?" Those seven words are deceptively simple. Everything that follows flows from them. Baptism, as noted earlier, is the first sacrament of initiation. It is fundamentally about who we are and who we will become. In naming their child, parents continue what began in the Book of Genesis when Adam named everything around him. Our baptism day defines us as Catholics, for it is a day of transformation, as we become a new creation. Baptism is about creation in all its beauty, joy, and wonder. We are freed from original sin.
Commitment: It is the commitment of parents and godparents to the Catholic faith and to living that faith with fidelity, enthusiasm, and joy. Our faith means living it in such a way that a child or recently baptized adult will observe how to pray, value, and love others and say, "I want to live my life like that!"
Community: Early in the baptismal rite, the priest or deacon will say, "My children, the Christian community welcomes you with great joy!" because the Church celebrates the sacrament of baptism as a community. As such, we pray together, rejoice, grieve, and grow together. The Christian life is not isolated, and we do not celebrate the sacraments that way.
As we recall the baptism of Jesus and its significance for our baptisms, may we remember the 'Three C's.' May we strive to be a new creation, embrace our baptismal commitment and all it entails, and support and welcome those in our community as they celebrate this wonderful sacrament.
Question of the Day: How will you incorporate the 'Three C's' and add the fourth 'C' of Charity as well?
Prayer: Father, we pray that we live our lives through the teachings of your Beloved Son. We pray to hear your voice say we are your beloved children with whom you are well pleased. Amen.