The Baptism of Jesus
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
I think that one of the most underrated sacraments of the Catholic Church is the Sacrament of Baptism. Whenever we are asked about this wonderful sacrament, we are either drawn to recognize it as the "First Sacrament" to be received in the Catholic Church, or that we associate it with some funny anecdotes like this one:
A drunk stumble across a Pentecostal Baptismal service on Sunday afternoon down by the river. He proceeds to walk down into the water and stand next to the Preacher. The minister turns and notices the old drunk and says, "Mister, are you ready to find Jesus?" The drunk looks back and says, "Yes, Preacher. I sure am." The minister then dunks the fellow under the water and pulls him right back up. "Have you found Jesus?" the preacher asked. "No, I didn't!" said the drunk. The preacher then dunks him under for quite a bit longer, brings him up and says, "Now, brother, have you found Jesus?” “No, I did not, Reverend." The preacher in disgust holds the man under for at least 30 seconds this time, brings him out of the water and says in a harsh tone, "My God, have you found Jesus yet?” The old drunk wipes his eyes and says to the preacher... "Are you sure this is where he fell in?"
The sacraments of the Church are essentially Sacraments of commitment. They are "holy signs" that fill us with the same Spirit that anointed Jesus Christ who, in His commitment, saw the heavens open and heard a voice thundering: "You are my beloved son. On you my favor rests."
First thing that we can therefore learn from this feast is that Baptism just like other Sacraments is not just a ONE-TIME commitment. You may only receive it once like Confirmation and Holy Orders, but the commitment is lifetime. In fact, we don’t get baptized just in order to be named; we don’t get baptized in order to have a reason for a grand banquet (In the Philippines for instance, many people would want their child baptized during parish religious festivals in order to have an all-in-one celebration. Well, it’s cheaper that way, but, sadly, most often baptism is just something that is inserted in the over-all picture); more importantly, we don’t get baptized in order to get over it! “Oh, let’s get this over with that I may be able to get married in the Church later on!” Aha! Baptism is regarded as a requirement! But, baptism is a commitment, where we share the very offices that Christ sacrificially performed while here on earth – the offices of PRIEST as principal minister; of PROPHET as preacher; and of KING as a servant-leader!
What do we commit ourselves into? Well, we commit ourselves to two things: 1. To holiness, and 2. To service.
Holiness. The call to holiness is a universal call that all of us baptized should be committed to. Each day we respond to pressing issues and daily activities that challenge our conscience to make moral choices and in line with these choices make Christian moral decisions. It is not easy. But if we constantly nourish our consciences with the truths of our faith, then definitely we could make good moral decisions. We could discern more clearly what God would want us to do in such situations. Our way to holiness would be much easier and not far-fetched!
Service. Service is a fruit of KNOWLEDGE, and LOVE, so before we could be committed to service, we have to first KNOW who we are committing our lives to in order to LOVE that person and then be of SERVICE to the person. Simple Christian logic that we have to learn. When we were baptized, we committed our lives to SERVE the Catholic Church in ways possible. That very act of Baptism gave us the same offices that Christ performed in His ministry.
Moreover, the beauty of this feast, which shows us that the Son of God was humble enough to be baptized by a human, compels us to consider the power of God’s love in us when we are willing to let go of being the center of attention, and the ones who try to make everything happen our way. This is not an easy way of life. But it is the Christian way of life. We need to be willing to immerse ourselves in what God wants for us. No wonder it begins with baptism, the very word meaning “to immerse”. We are immersed in God’s life and in the Church. Because of this sacrament, the ritual of baptism says, “we are now called children of God, for so indeed we are”.
An old gentleman walked into a fashionable florist shop. "I want a beautiful corsage," he said, "not a big one, but just about the prettiest one you can make." He smiled broadly, "it's for my granddaughter and she is having her first date tomorrow." The florist was all curious. "How old is the young lady?" he asked, eyeing his flowers speculatively. "Two weeks," replied the grandfather. The florist turned in utter amazement. "Did you say, a date… a corsage...two weeks old?" "Precisely," said the old gentlemen. "And I want the corsage that's exactly right. She'll never have more important date than she has tomorrow. My little granddaughter will be baptized." (Frank Michalic, Tonic for the Heart)
Jesus’ baptism reminds us of our own baptism and responsibility. As Catholics, our lives are supposed to be configured to the person of Christ. At baptism we became the Father’s adopted children. As such, we are expected to share Christ’s and the church’s missionary activity. And so at this time in our lives, it helps to ask these questions very often: Do I live my life according to my baptismal promises? Do I firmly believe in what I say? Do I act according to what I believe? Well, I should. Otherwise, shame on me who calls myself a Christian.
Baptism of a child
giopski (author) from Oakland, California on January 14, 2019:
@Eric Dierker. Yes, as precious as our faith itself. The Sacrament of Baptism serves as its blueprint. Let this Sacrament remind us of our true identity and mission entrusted to us by Jesus Himself of Prophet, King and Priest.
giopski (author) from Oakland, California on January 14, 2019:
@Paul K Francis. Thank you for your comments and for reading my article. Baptism is such a wonderful sacrament and as it has become too common to many of us, they become too underrated. Yes, I agree with teaching this to the kids and the young ones especially that most of us has been baptized back when we were still infants. It is the parents' spiritual responsibility to teach these kids with the basic tenets of our faith.
Paul K Francis from east coast,USA on January 14, 2019:
I like your ideas concerning immersion into God's life and our lives being configured to the person of Christ. Baptism is a beautiful sacrament, and your article was enjoyable to read, as it also would be helpful for any one who may be called upon at some point to speak for the little ones. Thanks.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 14, 2019:
Very interesting. The Sacraments are so precious.