How many of us remember our baptism? If we were baptised as infants we wouldn’t remember a thing. But it was a great day and we were the center of attention. Our proud parents brought to the parish church along with our godparents, grandparents, siblings and a lot of other family friends. After our baptism there was a party and we received gifts and were passed around for everyone to hold.
St. Paul tells us that before the world began, scientists tell us our beautiful, vast universe is over 13 billion years old, but before that, God chose each of us to be God’s adopted son or daughter. That gracious choice was made real the day of our baptism. By the use of life giving water and the speaking of life giving words – I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – we became sons and daughters of God and the Spirit of God was poured into our very being giving us the boldness to call the almighty, the immense God – the intimate name, Father, papa, daddy, and we became members of the Body of Christ, the church.
Of course we had nothing to do with all this. Our parents wanted to see their own faith passed on to us.
Economists identify us as consumers, and our purpose in life is to buy. The entertainment industry identifies us as spectators, and our role is to “tune in.” Our baptism identifies us as God’s beloved children, and calls us to remain faithful to our identity and live out, as best we can with our new relationship with God. This is my son, my daughter, in whom I am well pleased – these words are true of us in the innocence of our infancy. May they be said of us today with our own personal histories of sins and failures as we struggle to live Christ-like lives, as we struggle every day to grow to full maturity in Christ, as we struggle to put on Christ and be as Christ like as possible. Some days we win, some days we lose.
Every day of life God our Father tells us ‘listen to him’, listen to my son as Christ challenges us to see him in every person who will come into our lives this day. We meet Christ every day in our spouses, our children, our parents, our neighbours, the people with whom we work, the street person who asks for money, the homeless, the addicted, we meet him in the over-worked, unpaid undocumented workers in the area.
I asked the students in our school, what do you have to do if want to see Jesus? They all knew the answer – look at the person next to me. That’s where Jesus is to us, in the man or woman of child that we see standing in front of us. How we accept and respect that person, how we reach out and help or heal or forgive that person, as they are, not as we would want them to be, will determine whether not the Father says of us, this is my beloved son or daughter in whom I am well pleased.
This feast of the Baptism of the Lord calls us back to our own baptisms and the possibilities and responsibilities of our baptism. Are we trying to be more like Christ in our relationships? Do we bring the love of Christ, the acceptance of Christ, for forgiving and healing of Christ to every person we meet. Are we even aware that this is what our baptism demands of us? Think about it.
We continue this Mass praying for ourselves and each other that our Father God can looking into our hearts and lives and say of us what he said of Jesus – this is my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.