Our gospel today features Christ’s baptism, it should remind us of our own baptism, how precious it was. For it made us God’s children. We received the Holy spirit and became a member of his local and universal church. Lets give thanks for that, and confess ways we have failed to live out our baptismal promises.
What a wonderful thing baptism is. Our tiny son or daughter is made a child of God and freed from evil and death. Today’s Gospel emphasizes this in Christ’s own baptism. When I was in Palestine a group of us relived that Jordan experience. In the midst of the desert, off with shoes and into the cool water; knobbly knees, varicose veins and all. As water poured over me I imagined the rough figure of John, the crowds waiting to be baptized and the youthful Christ up to his knees in the water. A dove swoops. The Father shouts “this is my beloved Son”. Yet our baptism is as glorious. God says the same to each of us at baptism; this is my beloved son, this is my beloved daughter.
For when he ascended to heaven, Jesus made us all God’s babies and the Father dotes over us as he doted over Jesus. And we in turn should rejoice to be his children, his best creation, given a new innocence and heavenly destiny as water is poured over us.
That destiny is twofold. First to be holy as our heavenly father is holy. Farmers, shopkeepers, nurses, street cleaners, unemployed or whatever it makes no difference. For as Vatican 11 says, at baptism we’re all made equal children of God, each empowered to bring God’s goodness into the world. As children of our blessed lord, we should do that joyfully. First, by being holy which is different from being perfect, we’ll never be that. Secondly, by serving all that’s good and best, living out our baptismal calling to be priests and prophets of Christ. We’re to renew the face of the earth in the power of the spirit we receive. Young or old, sick or well, working or pensioners we never retire from that calling, to be holy as our heavenly Father is. Were to live a life of prayer and love all life long and so light up our world. At each stage of life were to serve Christ as faithful members of his church. For were saved not as individuals but as part of a living community of faith, worship and charity.
That’s why I say to people at confession, stop listing the same old faults, think instead of how well you live you baptismal calling to work for Christ, his church and all that’s good. As the new year dawns let that be our resolution; despite our frailty and sinfulness to struggle towards ever fuller service of God, his church and humanity. Old or young, sick or well, working or retired we can do that because of the spirit received at baptism. Whether president of Ireland or helpless invalids we can all do great work in some way. I hate modern talk about quality of life; as if only the young shiny healthy-haired ones of TV ads count. We’re all precious from the first to the last breath, vital to God’s plan. Our main task is to be faithful, to serve humanity, so that when Christ comes again, as the baptismal prayer says, we’ll to go to meet him with all the saints, and inherit the kingdom prepared for us since the world’s foundation. For all else fades to ashes at last but Christ is lord of love, goodness, peace, happiness and salvation forever and ever, amen. So as God’s people baptized into and serving Christ in the world as faithful members of his church, lets profess our faith anew.
Prayers of the Faithful.
As people reborn by water and the Spirit lets pray for our needs.
For the Pope and all church leaders, true to their baptismal calling may they lead the faithful in humble service of God.
For civil leaders that they may serve all the people, but especially the poor and vulnerable in society.
For our wonderful youth that they may keep their baptismal and confirmation vows to be faithful to Christ and his church..
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 daily life, so as to be examples to our children.
For all our children who were baptized or who have received First Holy Communion or Confirmation, that they will live out their Christian calling to be holy, worship every Sunday as faithful members of his holy church, and witness to Christ in daily life.
For the sick, the aged, the lonely and the depressed that consciousness of their dignity as precious children of God through baptism we may help them to come to know the love of God their Father 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 and come safely to their heavenly home.
And we ask these prayers through Christ of the heavenly Father for he is lord forever and ever amen.
Baptizing 15 adults of various nations once, reminded me of the universal nature of the church and 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 those who was baptized how she felt, and she said that for the first time she felt real peace within. We who were baptized as infants missed that kind of adult commitment to Christ. So we might make that mature commitment to Christ and the church anew today in our hearts and ask Mother Mary to help us live it every day..Hail Mary.