The Christmas season ends with the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Jordan River in his 30th year, given by Saint John the Baptist. The clouds were rent asunder, the dove alighted upon Jesus and the voice of the heavenly Father could be heard clearly: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”(Mt. 3: 13-17)
The Baptism of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ summons all of us who have received the great gift and grace of the Sacrament of Baptism to renew our own baptismal promises. Listen and meditate on the profound but simple words taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Sacrament of Baptism:
“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door that gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and the word.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1213)
Spiritually and supernaturally, it all started at the moment of our own baptism when the minister poured water on our forehead and pronounced the words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
The graces were a deluge, to say the least. Listen to all that happened the day and moment of your Baptism! Transformed into son of God, brother to Jesus Christ, intimate Friend of the Holy Spirit, temple and icon of the Blessed Trinity—all of these personal graces we receive in relationship to the Blessed Trinity when baptized.
However, more graces and gifts descended in an invisible but very real way. The following are the many virtues that our soul was imbued with in the moment of Baptism: the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity; then the moral or cardinal virtues also: justice, temperance, prudence, and fortitude. And then, at the same time we received the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.
If that were not enough in the moment of Baptism we became members of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, exorcised of the presence of the malignant enemy. With Baptism too we receive the right and privilege to the many heavenly inspirations that comes from God’s spirit and if we live out our baptismal promises one day eternal life is ours! How generous the good God is!
Given that it all started spiritually with Baptism we are called to live out our own baptism by renouncing the devil and his seductions; also we are called to renounce the world and its allurements as well as the base promptings of our lower nature that we call the flesh. In a word, from Baptism we are all called to pursue a life of holiness, calling to mind the words of Jesus who said: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” (Mt 5:48)
What then might be some concrete ways that we can call to mind our baptism or the baptism of our family members and live out with greater energy and intent the responsibilities that flow from the great Sacrament of Baptism. We will offer a five for your meditation, reflection as well as practical application in your daily walk with the Lord Jesus who was baptized in the Jordan leaving an example for us!
1. Baptism of Jesus. Every year that we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus and the priest, in the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, blesses the people with holy water. We should renew our own baptismal commitment with faith, fervor and commitment to renounce sin and follow Jesus with a determined determination. We should strive to leave the dead leaven of sin and live in the holiness of the light of Christ, who indeed is the Light of the world.
2. Parents and Children’s Baptism. It could be a very powerful teaching and catechetical moment for parents—especially for the little ones—to celebrate the Baptism date of their child the same way they would celebrate their natural birthday. Indeed, baptism is our second birth. Why not buy a cake and light the candles—according to the number of years and celebrate the spiritual birth of your child. However, this should all be done in the context of faith and catechesis. Parents can use this moment to explain what Baptism is, what it does to our soul and the responsibilities that flow from the Sacrament of Baptism!
3. The Sign of the Cross. Making the sign of the cross with both faith and reverence can be an efficacious means by which our awareness of the Sacrament of Baptism can be enhanced. The great Carmelite mystic Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity’s basic charism was a keen and acute awareness of the most Blessed Trinity living in her soul through grace. Therefore, every time we make the sign of the Trinity and say: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” we can call to mind our dignity from Baptism, that we are sons of God the Father, a brother to Jesus Christ and a close friend to the Holy Spirit. Indeed how many sins would we avoid committing with our bodies—temples of the Blessed Trinity—if we only were aware of our dignity and destiny. Not only are we living icons of the Trinity starting at Baptism, but our eternal destiny is to live in the bosom of the Blessed Trinity for all eternity!
4. Holy Water. Every Christian-Catholic family should have holy water in their homes. Better yet, would be to have holy water and a little holy water font in all bedrooms. Therefore, upon coming or leaving every member of the family could bless himself with holy water for protection against the evil spirits and for the grace to live according to the dignity that flows from our Baptism. Holy water is a “holy” reminder of God in our lives!
5. Parents & Godparents: Recall and Live Your Responsibility. Godparents of a baptized child or adult represent a much more extensive family—that we belong to the Church which is the family of God. Among the many roles of the godparents, let us highlight two primary roles: 1) Prayer—Godparents should pray for their godchildren, hopefully every day at least a Hail Mary, better yet a Rosary; 2) Good example—godparents are called to live out the symbolism of the lighted candle—that is to say they are called to radiate the light of good example in all they say and do. A good example has a powerful influence on others; think of the example of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta as well as Saint Pope John Paul II—what burning torches in a world immersed in the darkness of sin! Parents have a more extensive and serious role and responsibility than the godparents. True, parents must pray and give good example to their children, but they must go way beyond these two roles. Parents also are called to educate their children and in all aspects: character, human formation, the formation of the mind, heart, will and soul. In a word, parents should form their children to be excellent citizens of this world and future citizens of the king of heaven.
In conclusion let us call to mind our great dignity and our great destiny; and it all starts at the moment we received the Sacrament of Baptism. Dignity? We are temples of the most Blessed Trinity once baptized. Destiny? Our end goal in life is to be united with the Blessed Trinity forever in heaven. May Our Lady who is the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son and the mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit attain for us the grace to live out to the fullest extent the Sacrament of Baptism in our lives!