As we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we conclude the Christmas Season. We continue to dwell upon the great mystery of a God who is made visible through human flesh and who promises to return. As Christ celebrates His baptism by going into the desert to prepare for His ministry, each of us needs to take a good look at our own vocation. “What has God asked me to do, and am I living what He has asked of me?”
When John the Baptist baptized, he was calling people to repentance. He gave it to all and asked that they make a commitment to reform their lives for the coming Messiah. His baptizing was bringing in the new age. He was the last prophet to “look for another” and to prepare the way for another. Jesus was baptized by John, not because He needed to repent, but as a sign that He was the NEW AGE. Jesus’ baptism was Israel’s Red Sea crossing, and Jesus’ wandering for 40 days in the wilderness was Israel’s 40 years of wandering and looking toward the Promised Land. Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. He brought forth the new era in Water and Spirit. From Jesus’ baptism, God took His Son into His service equipping Him and authorizing Him to be His messenger and the beginning of the time of salvation.
Water is a double edge sword so to speak. It can mean death/life, too much water and we drown, not enough and we die. As we go down into the waters of baptism, we are going into a watery grave. In baptism we are going to our death. As we come out of the water, we come back from the grave and we immediately are filled with the Holy Spirit. By this dying to self in surrender to the Father’s will, a whole new Spirit, the Spirit of the living God is upon the human race.
The Baptism of Jesus is a ritual enactment of His passion, death, and resurrection. The Church sees Baptism as dying to the evil of sin, and rising with Jesus and being anointed with His Spirit. St. Paul (Romans 6:3) summarizes the experience of Baptism “Are you…new life.”
1. Baptism is a change of allegiance. We are no longer slaves to sin, but children of a loving God.
2. Baptism is a putting off of the old and putting on the new. (baptismal garments)
3. Baptism is a new birth. (baptismal fonts)
4. Baptism enlightens. (the candle lit from the Easter Candle and given to the person)
5. Baptism makes a person a share in Christ; therefore, like Christ, we are anointed priest, prophet, and king. (the anointing following the water rite at baptism)
We are called from baptism onward to walk as a child of God. We are called to live out our vocation guided by the Holy Spirit, whether that be in marriage, single life, religious life or ordained ministry. As we begin the year 2019 please keep our seminarians in your prayers.