Reflections on the Readings
The Baptism of the Lord - January 11, 2015 - Year B
The Sign of Faith
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased." (Mark 1: 9-11)
Jesus is baptized in order to say that he is one with us and invites us to be one with him in baptism. In doing so, Jesus shows the truth of John's words, "One mightier than I is coming!" John preached the greatness of Christ and invited all to prepare for his coming by repenting and receiving his baptism. As Jesus walks into the waters to John the fulness of communion with God is revealed as Jesus embraces the baptismal waters and sanctifies them as the new and living way to know the Father through the Holy Spirit.
Christian baptism is that sign of faith that marks us as a son and daughter of God. Its a date to remember and to celebrate every year and to think about what Christian baptism speaks of and ask ourselves if we are living up to our baptism. Allow me to ask you a question. Does the glory of Christ's life that this sacrament of faith gives us capture your imagination? Think about it. Through this divine initiative, this sacrament bring us into a living relationship with God. We encounter the living God, Father, Son, and Spirit! We are a new creation! A once barren sinner now drenched with the life giving waters of Christ and his Spirit.
After the good Deacon Philip explained the meaning of the passage the Ethiopian eunuch was reading the prince of Ethiopia asked, "Here's some water. Why can't I be baptized right now?" And he was and he went home a brand new Christian. The old was gone and the new and living Way, even Christ, now possessed his heart. In this conversion we see three things happening. The eunuch who is searching for Christ. A Deacon who brings understanding about Christ and his love. Then the desire to be baptized is expressed. Forever marked as one with Christ, the Ethiopian eunuch brought home more than he left with.
For those who were baptized when a baby let me say something to you. First, thank God for those who brought you into the womb of the Church and gave you the greatest gift anyone can give another person. Nothing short of something miraculous happened on that day. Prayers for you and your future in Christ were prayed and vows were made by parents and god-parents to accept their responsibility to teach you about Christ and his Church. In fact the whole community promised to be an example of what it means to be a Christian. So from day one you have had family and friends and people you may never meet this side of heaven praying for you and trying their best not to be an obstacle to your life in Jesus. Second, if you don't know the exact date of your baptism then celebrate it the whole month in which it took place. Third, cultivate the relationship that is yours through the sign of faith we call Christian baptism. Come to Christ again and thank him for the gift of new life in the Spirit. Give praise to the Father for the love with which he loved the world in giving us his Son, his only Son! Ask for more of this life in Christ. Invite the Holy Spirit to take you further and deeper into the faith. Stay open and docile. Let the Lord lead you and help you to be his hands and his feet and his voice. For this sign of faith that marks you brings to you an energy able to make you courageous and valiant for Christ who embraced you when you were baptized.
Now love him back!
Dennis Hankins, a Catholic Evangelist, is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com