A KIND OF SECOND BIRTHDAY
(A biblical refection on THE FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD – Sunday, 13 January 2013)
First Reading: Is 40:1-5,9-11; Psalms: Ps 104:1-4,24-25,27-30; Second Reading: Tit 2:11-14;3:4-7; Gospel Reading: Luke 3:15-16,21-22
THIRTY quiet years had passed. Now it was time to go to work. His first step was to seek out His cousin John, daily growing in popularity because of his famous Jordan River baptisms. Jesus all received the “baptism of repentance,” not because He was a sinner but to identify Himself and His imminent mission with and for sinful community.
Tradition says that this took place on the west side of the Jordan, approximately four and one half miles north of the Dead Sea. As the cool river water flowed over His head and body, and He heard the voice from heaven, Jesus knew He was now a public figure. He was moving swiftly toward center stage, from where He would never retreat. John likewise would change, for his public stature would soon be dwarfed by the increasing popularity of Jesus.
Immediately afterward, the Lord hurried into the mountains near Jericho to finalize His plans, pray to His Father and be tested by the forces of evil. Then, He began His three year non-stop mission of preaching, curing, counseling, building for the future and dying for the liberation of humanity. Yet the first public step had been baptism, and He saw His entire mission as its fulfillment. “I have a baptism to receive and what anguish I feel until it is over” (Lk 12:50).
That same Spirit-filled water at one time flowed over our heads. Regardless of our ages, it was our first step in faith. Even though most of us do not remember the event, it charted our course toward Christ.
The Church continually tries to impress on us the dignity of this sacrament of initiation. Parents requesting baptism for their children are expected to faithfully attend Mass as a sign of their Christian sincerity. Adults asking for this beginning sacrament must first devote much time so prayer and study.
Baptism is the foundation of the sacramental system. It is so basic to our spiritual life that it is a kind of second birthday. Jesus explained it to Nicodemus as being born again (Jn 3:3).
Do you know when and where you where baptized? If not, why not find out and celebrate it as your birthday in faith? You might attend Mass that day, say a rosary, make a holy hour, or reread the baptismal promises and meditate on their meaning.
“This is my beloved, in whom I am well pleased,” can be applied to anyone who lives his or her baptismal promises faithfully throughout life.
Note: Taken from Fr. James McKarns, GO TELL EVERYONE, Makati, Philippines: St. Paul Publications, 1985, pages 203-204.
Jakarta, 13 January 2013
A Christian Pilgrim