Today we commemorate the baptism of Jesus and recall not only the event that triggered his public ministry, but also our own baptismal beginning as children of God. Whether we were baptized as adults or infants, we continue a lifetime of renewing our commitment to faith. Bernard Haring, the theologian who dramatically influenced Vatican II, called baptism, “The gift of grace which teaches us.” It is this gift of grace, which called us to Christ at a point in time, and remains with us to challenge us to continue to be transformed by its power. It is in and through this experience of grace that we are called, named, and sent by God.
Daniel Berrigan, Jesuit Priest and poet, reflected on this servant call, and reminded us that we are each “called into being, at a time we do not choose, to parents whom we did not choose, and sustained each day of our lives by that call. We are also named by God and given a vocation, a choice, a summoning, and a name unique to the entire world. In being named, we are also chosen to be sent as a sign of God’s love and compassion. Baptism was the occasion in our lives when we acknowledged God’s call, to accept our name, to choose to be chosen, and to agree to be sent.”
Baptism marks the beginning of our life in Christ. It is an important moment in our lives but it is only a beginning. Our vocation is to “follow through” from the moment of our baptism to the end of our days. We are called to live a graced life strengthened and nourished by our relationship with God, a relationship that influences every other relationship and life experience. Today our Gospel tells us what God did at Jesus’ baptism: “On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open,” and the same spirit present at the creation of the world, came again upon the face of the earth.
As we remember Jesus’ baptism, we recall our own baptismal commitment. At our baptism, we, or someone for us, answered, “I do” as promises to our initial commitment of faith. Today, let us renew that commitment, allowing ourselves to be called, named, chosen and sent anew:
- “Do you reject evil and sin and accept to be taught by God’s grace?
- Do you reject pride, arrogance and self-sufficiency and humbly accept to depend on God as the source of your life and strength?
- Do you reject materialism and a preoccupation with acquiring the goods of the earth and freely choose to make God the basis of your security, and share what you have with the needy?
- Do you reject poverty and homelessness and accept to be responsible for the wellbeing of the less fortunate?
- Do you reject injustice in all its forms—moral, social, economic and political and pledge to become part of the solution within your own family, neighborhood, and community?
- Do you reject discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age or class and promise to welcome those who otherwise would not find acceptance?
- Do you reject apathy and indifference and pledge to be your brother and sister’s keeper?
- Do you renounce self-importance and an ambitious struggle for power, and accept the Christian role as servant of all?
- Do you believe in God, who creates, redeems, forgives, guides and provides?
- Do you believe in Jesus Christ, savior and brother in whose name you are being saved?
- Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, ever present to empower, sanctify and teach the Church?
- Do you believe in the Church, the sacrament of Christ among humankind?
- Do you today willingly renew your baptismal commitment and promise to live each day in accord with this gift of God’s grace that teachers you?”
----Taken from an article written by Patricia Sanchez ----Deacon Wilson Shierk