With this feast of the Baptism of the Lord, our Church season of Christmas comes to a close because the baby has become a man. Jesus’’ baptism occurred about a quarter of a century after his birth and marked a new stage in his life as he leaves Nazareth and begins his public ministry. This Sunday is a chance to reflect not so much on Jesus’ baptism but on our own.
Baptism is often misunderstood because many people see it only as a moment when original sin is removed and nothing more than that. As important as what the sacrament of Baptism takes away is what it gives, because the sacrament does more than erase original sin. It gives us a new identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ as we are immersed, bathed washed, wrapped in Jesus Christ. It gives us a mission to continue the work of Jesus. It gives us the equipment and access to the sacraments, that enables us to complete that mission.
For Jesus, John’s baptism signified a turning point as the Lord enters his public ministry to fulfil the words of Isaiah, to give sight and release to every generation since. For us, the sacrament of baptism is more than a “rite of passage”. It makes us a new creation with a new identify. That’s why a child receives a new name as we did. It gives us a mission to heal, bridge and enlighten in the name of Jesus. That’s why a baby receives anointings for its mission. It gives a baby the grace and power of the Holy Spirit to be faithful to that mission.
What have we done with the gift of life we were given? Have we taken care of our health? How have we used our youth, our young adult or mature years? How did we use the opportunities given to us? Are we squandering wasting, abusing the magnificent gift of life? In Baptism we are give the gift of a supernatural life. The grace of faith, membership in the church, becoming a part of Christ. We received the virtues or powers of believing hoping, loving as Jesus did. What have we done with that gift? Are we squandering, wasting or abusing the magnificent gift of supernatural life?