We celebrate the Baptism of the Lord today, a feast that marks the end of the Christmas season. This feast propels Jesus into his ministry and we will follow him into his life of miracles, healings and parables. Jesus’ baptism foreshadows our life in Christ, through his passion, death and resurrection.
Baptism is our second birth. We belong to Christ. Our relationship with Christ through baptism forms our identity as Christians. As we listen to today’s gospel, Luke 3:15-16, 21- 22, John the Baptist is leading us to Jesus’ baptism. John expresses his humility and shows us that Jesus will be baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire. We also hear the voice of the Father, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Jesus’ baptism closes out the season of the Incarnation. Jesus is already thirty years old. The message here is that the Incarnation is continually revealed within us through the Real Presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit through our baptism. We live out our commitment to Christ every day in our prayer, our actions and our posture toward justice and peace.
The Father calls Jesus his beloved Son. This message is in the depths of our own baptism. We are loved by God, called to reveal the mission of the Church in our generation, in our time and circumstances, within our lives and relationships. Each of us is the beloved of God. This message is incredibly important. Along the way, many people have received just the opposite messages from the Church. People have been told that they do not belong in the Church because of their economic status, because of the language they speak or because of the color of their skin. None of those things are our Christian identity. Our baptism tells us a different story; we belong in Christ Jesus through our baptism.
When we enter our churches, we dip our hands into the baptismal or holy water font. This action shows us that we belong to Christ. Over and over again, we live for others because of the sacrament of baptism. We live in our world striving to remain connected to God, connected to our communities that serve without reservation. The sacrament of baptism connects us to Christ, heals our divisions, forgives our sins, and shows us how to believe in God throughout our lives.
I invite you to Vespers this Friday, January 18, 2019. Friday begins the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The service will be at Sacred Heart Church beginning at 6:30pm. Andy Barton, from Catholic Charities, and Kristy Milligan, from Westside CARES, will speak during our prayer. I hope you can join us to celebrate our common baptism, the ways in which we all belong to the mission and healing power of Christ Jesus.
We desperately need to foster our common voice as Christians to work for our common good. We need to ponder the depth; the mystery of our own baptism lived in our world. Our common identity as Christians, no matter our denomination shows the world that Christ is alive and thriving in our world.
Blessings to you,