Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
The Christmas Season comes to an end with the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. Jesus who was born on Christmas is now proclaimed and commissioned for his mission at His Baptism. The Baptism of the Lord Jesus is the great event celebrated by the Eastern churches on the Feast of the Epiphany because it is the occasion of the first public revelation of all the Three Persons in the Holy Trinity and the official revelation of Jesus as the Son of God to the world by God the Father. It is also an event described by all four Gospels, and it marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.
On this wonderful feast day let us recall our own Baptism. What is it that our Baptism did for us? And what does the Baptism of Christ teach us today? The Baptism of Jesus reminds us of our identity. It reminds us of who we are and who we belong to. By Baptism, we become sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus, members of His Church, heirs of heaven and temples of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ Baptism reminds us also of our mission: a) to experience the presence of God within us, to acknowledge our own dignity as God’s children, and to appreciate the Divine Presence in others by honoring them, loving them and serving them in all humility; b) to live as the children of God in thought, word, and action. c) to lead holy and transparent Christian lives and not to desecrate our bodies, by impurity, injustice, intolerance, jealousy or hatred; d) to accept both the good and the bad experiences of life as the gifts of a loving Heavenly Father for our growth in holiness; e) to grow daily in intimacy with God by personal and family prayers, by meditative reading of the Word of God, by participating in the Holy Mass, and by frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
It is a day to thank God for the graces we have received in Baptism, to renew our Baptismal promises and to preach Christ’s “Good News” by our transparent Christian lives of love, mercy, service and forgiveness. On this day I would like to remind you of a great man who highly regarded the day of his Baptism and place of Baptism more than anything. This is Saint Louis IX, King of France. He called himself Louis of Poissy. He always signed himself this, not Louis IX, King of France, but Louis of Poissy. He spoke highly of the small chapel in Poissy where he was baptized, than the magnificent Cathedral of Rheims where he was crowned as King of France. Someone asked him why he is so passionate about that small chapel and he replied, “I think more of the place where I was baptized than of Rheims Cathedral where I was crowned. It is a greater thing to be a child of God than to be the ruler of a Kingdom. This last I shall lose at death but the other will be my passport to an everlasting glory.” He was well aware of how great a gift Baptism was for him. Why is it very important? Because it is at Baptism that God claimed you for Himself. He made ownership of you and stamped a seal on you and said, “This is my son and my daughter.” If you remember, what is the first rite of the sacramental celebration of Baptism? A priest will make the sign of the cross on the forehead of the child and say, “I claim you for God in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Saint Louis IX understood the great gift of Baptism and appreciated it all through his life. There was a reason behind his love of Baptism: his mother, Blanche. “I love you, my dear son, as much as a mother can love her child”, Blanche once informed her little boy. “But I would rather see you dead at my feet than you should ever commit a mortal sin.” Louis never forgot that. She taught him to love God and honor Poissy, the place of his Baptism. We all have to keep the day of our Baptism in our mind always; for it is on that day we became worthy of heaven. The bowl of water poured on our head, attached with the Word of God, made us children of God. We all have the responsibility to live as the children of God and help others to live the same like Saint Louis IX, King of France and his mother Blanche. Life is brief, and at the end we await judgment and eternity. It is how we live and thank God that matters. His grace is available to peasants and princes alike. Thanking God for His graces, let us ask Him to help to keep our Baptismal promises.
God Bless You,