Sunday, January 12, 2014

Matthew 3:13-17, The Baptism of the Lord - A Big Deal!

Jesus coming to the Jordan for baptism is a Big Deal!  It is the major turning point in His life: A new beginning that not only changed His life, but changed the life of the whole world.

Jesus accepts baptism from John, not because he needed to be cleansed from sin, as the Son of God he was sinless, but as the ‘fulfillment of all righteousness’.  His submission to being baptized was an act of obedience to the Will of God – a self-emptying, so that he would be filled with the Spirit, to  be revealed and claimed by the Father as his ‘beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’.

Baptism is a big deal.  It signified a major change in the life of Jesus and a big deal for us – major change - in our lives.  It is our sacrament of initiation into the Church and into the life of Christ; where we become children of God, inheritors in His kingdom.  Baptism is our self-emptying from sin and old ways.  In our baptism all sins is forgiven and erased.  We start anew and refreshed in the embrace of God, the Father through His beloved Son.  Whether we are baptized as an infant or as an adult, we receive the same graces and complete forgiveness.  We are received with great joy and claimed by Christ in His Church. 

Baptism in the Church is a new beginning for each of us: a change that brings us to new life – our life in Christ – a very big deal!  Unlike Jesus, we have the stain of original sin on our souls. Our inheritance from Adam.  In order for us to be received into the Kingdom of God we must be reborn of water and the Spirit.  St. Paul tells us that through baptism we enter into Christ’s death, are buried and rise with Him to walk in newness of life.  We die to sin and rise to a new life as children of God.

Baptism is the sacrament of faith (CCC 1253). But faith is not formed in a vacuum.  It needs the community of believers. We do not stand alone, but live together in the Body of Christ, His Church. 

In the Rites of Baptism and Christian Initiation, we, or for infants their godparents, are asked what we seek in Christ’s Church.  Our answer is: faith.  But we do not give faith.  Faith is not something tangible.  We cannot hand faith to someone in a gift-wrapped box or give them a book on faith to read and expect them to find faith. Faith is a lived experience – a shared experience - passed down from person to person, parent to child, Godparent to godchild, friend to friend, community member to community member, brothers and sisters to one another.  We have to live our lives in Christ for faith to develop and mature.

Faith is a practice, not a concept.  It is something we do, not something we think.  It is a lived experience, - a shared experience, - enhanced through daily pray, communal worship and frequent participation.  It becomes a part of our life not something we belong to – we are not members of the Catholic faith.  It is something we are – Christians, followers of the Way, disciples of Jesus.

Faith is our Road to Emmaus, - our journey, - where we walk together with one another, - with Jesus in our midst.  It is our journey of caring, sharing and supporting one another: Pilgrims struggling together toward the promise land: this journey of faith that begins in baptism. 
On this road we come to faith through our parents, godparents and the entire community of the faithful. It is an extension of the adage, “It take a village to raise a child.” It take a faith community, through word, and action to bring a child or an adult to faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

As we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, let us be reminded of our own baptism and that our baptism in the Church is a big deal.  It is the most important sacrament because it brings us to Christ, our Savior through whom we come to God, the Father and Life Eternal.  We have nothing without baptism – no sacramental grace, - no salvation through Jesus Christ - no promise of life eternal – no kingdom of heaven – no light in darkness – no justice - no peace – no hope – only the empty promises of the evil one who delights in our damnation and destruction – forever and ever ~ Amen.


Deacon Don Ron

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