Baptism of the Lord

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

by Father Brian J. Soliven on Sunday January 12, 2020

We having a boring God. He tends to do the same things over and over. Whenever He creates something new, two things are predictably present: water and the Spirit.  We see this in the first line of the entire Bible in Genesis when he creates the universe. We see it again in the story of Noah's ark. We see it when he leads Moses and the Jewish people through the Red Sea. And we again, see this in the Sacrament of baptism. Through the water and the Spirit, something new has been created.

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The mother held the baby gently in her arms over the baptismal font.
A smile radiated from her face, as the white-clad baby wailed his arms
wildly as babies tend to do. “Would she cry?” I wondered. It’s always
a 50-50 chance, whether a baby cries or not as the cold blessed water
is poured over their tiny little heads. In my experience, if the baby
enjoys baths, he or she will enjoy the feeling of the holy water at
their baptism. Finally, the moment comes for the actually rite itself.
The baby dangles over Heaven and earth when those lovely words pierce
the sanctuary: “… I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the
Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” When you stop and reflect about this
“routine” you can feel the weight of history. This seemingly innocent
gesture has changed the course of entire civilizations and continents.
It has been repeated billions of times over these last two thousand
years, across cultures and nations. These same words were used over
the heads of construction workers and kings, over emperors and
engineers, babies and men. Baptisms can become so usual and proverbial
we overlook the verbal literal power.

Words have the ability to commandeer and shape reality. It can bring
into being something that did not exist before. An individual man and
woman, for instance, whom stand before God on their wedding day, can
create something entirely new with a few unassuming vocabulary sounds:
“I do.” At that moment, a Christian family is born, endowed with the
very grace of the Trinity itself. Similarly at our baptism, we are
reborn, reconfigured and refreshed. We become sons and daughters of
God. (See 2 Corinthians 6:18)

Today as the Church celebrates when Christ himself was baptized in the
Jordan River we must remember why, otherwise the baptism we do will
lose its meaning. The waters of baptism, like the waters of the flood
during Noah’s time in Genesis come to cleanse our sins away. With
those very same words which Jesus Christ himself commanded to his
followers before he physically left the planet: “Go, therefore and
make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit… and behold, I am with
you always, to the close of the age.” Jesus again saves .(See Matthew
28:20) But unlike us who are sanctified through the waters, Christ
today is the who gives these seemingly unassuming ceremony its
transformative grace.

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