Let’s talk baptism.
Last Sunday we celebrated at mass the baptism of the Lord. Which, as many a blogger, priest and BSF teaching leader has said before me, sounds like a huge contradiction of terms. In studying the Gospel of Matthew, I was struck by the fact that those going to John the Baptist to be baptized were truly revolutionary. They were Jews and the common belief of the day was that Jews were the chosen people and had salvation guaranteed by their birth. Baptism was needed only by converts. But the Jews who were coming to see John were searching for something, something bigger, something more.
Each year at the Easter Vigil, Catechumens enter the church through the sacrament of baptism. And countless weekends during the year, infants are brought before the church and claimed for Christ and baptized in the Name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. When people were baptized by John the Baptist, they were told to “Repent, for the kingdom of God is as hand.” And baptism was their formal repentance. The Catechumens and infants we baptize now are cleansed of Original Sin just as the Jews of Jesus’ time baptized by John were being cleansed of sin in repentance.
At baptism of our children, we promise to raise them as Catholics and teach them the faith. We select Godparents who will help us and ensure our children will be raised Catholic in the event that something happens to us. Among the Godparents I have chosen for my children are my mother’s best friend, a priest friend of mine, 2 of my brothers and my 2 best friends. It is such a relief to me to know I chose people who not only love my children, but take their roles as Godparents very seriously.
Baptism is, for me, such a beautiful time to not only welcome a new soul to the family but to renew, ourselves, our commitment to our faith. And it is a gift, the gift of the Holy Spirit, coming upon us, upon a new beautiful life. And it’s a reminder of the awesome mercy and grace and forgiveness Christ will give us, everytime we ask and often when we don’t deserve it.