As we start a new year were reminded today that our spiritual journey begins with baptism. God says of Christ at baptism, as he says of us, “This is my beloved”. Lets confess ways we fail to live our baptismal and confirmation promises to be the faithful..
The gospel features Christ’s baptism in the Jordan river. When in the Holy land, a group of us relived that experience. In the midst of the desert, off with our shoes and into the cool water; knobby knees, varicose veins and all. As water poured over us, I imagined the gospel scene: the rough figure of John; crowds gathering to be baptized; someone special coming, ordinary yet full of God’s glory; the dove descending and the father shouting, “this is my beloved son”. Yet our baptism is as glorious. God says the same to each of us; “this is my beloved son, this is my beloved daughter”. For when he rose Christ made us all God’s children. and the Father loves us hopelessly as he did Jesus. So we should cherish all as brothers and sisters. For by baptism we’re God’s family, our innocence and heavenly destiny restored.
But at baptism we receive others vocations too, mainly to be holy as God is. Farmers, shopkeeper, nurses, street cleaners, the unemployed, whatever, we’re all priceless. As Vatican 11 says, at baptism we’re called to live as children of God and to actively spread his goodness and holiness in the world. We’re to do our Father’s work, by being holy ourselves and passing the faith on to others, especially our families. Young or old, sick or well, working or pensioners we never retire from that vital calling.
I’m reminded of a story a lapsed Catholic told me. When he went abroad, he stopped practicing his faith. But when he retired, he realized his mistake and came back to the church. But when he went to the local priest to be received the back the latter gave out to him: “you’ve a lot to answer for”, the priest said, “as result of your apostasy thousands are and will be lost to the faith; your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. A person can make a huge difference for good or ill by keeping the faith or not. For ill by abandoning the faith and so gravely endangering one’s soul and those of loved ones. For good by remaining faithful members of the church and spreading it to others, especially our family, furthering Christ’s saving work.
For were saved not as individuals but as part of a community of faith, worship and charity. If we abandon that community and its worship then its likely our faith will disappear also. That’s why I say to people at confession, stop repeating minor faults and ask yourself instead, am I living out my baptismal promise to deepen and spread my faith. For the real trust of baptism is that we’re anointed to be a living active members of Christ’s church.
Not that we’ll ever be perfect. But despite and through our very frailty and sinfulness the trick is to remain faithful to God and his church. What’s important is not the quantity of our money but the quality of our faith. For every breath we take from first to last is precious and vital to God’s plan. So lets persevere in serving to the end, so that when Christ comes to judge the living and the dead he’ll say; “well done good and faithful servant inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world”. For this world fades to dust and ashes at last but Christ is lord of life, love, goodness, happiness, truth, and salvation for this world and forever and ever, amen.
As God’s beloved, blessed with his Spirit at baptism and anointed to do his work as part of the holy church, we profess our faith..
Prayers of the Faithful.
For our holy Father, the Pope, and all the leaders of the churches that they may remain true to their baptismal calling and lead all the faithful in humble service of God and each other..
For ourselves, that in our homes, community and local church we may serve Christ faithfully and live out our baptism in goodness and holiness in our daily lives…
For all our children who were baptized and received First Holy Communion and Confirmation, that they will live out their Christian calling to be worshipping members of his local church and witnesses for Christ and all that’s right before the world..
For the sick, aged, lonely and the mentally depressed that conscious of their dignity as precious children of God through baptism, they may know the love of God through our care…
For the dead who wore the white robe of Christ’s resurrection at baptism, that they may enter into the fullness of eternal life promised then, by coming safely to their heavenly home.
And we ask these prayers through Christ to the heavenly Father in the Spirit we received at baptism, amen.
I baptized 15 adults of various nations on one occasion. It reminded me of the church’s universality in response to Christ’s command: “Go teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. I asked one of the baptized, after Communion and Confirmation, how she felt. “For the first time I feel real peace within”, she said. We who were baptized as infants missed that adult commitment. So we might make that commitment to Christ and the church in our hearts every so often and ask Mother Mary to help us live it out..Hail Mary.