One could say that our celebration of the sacrament of baptism is a little understated. When celebrating the sacrament in my parish I often wonder why I do not try to put more emphasis on the sacrament. In the years since the Second Vatican Council little has been done to catechize the members of the members of the church family about the celebration.
It is advised that the sacrament of Baptism should be celebrated where possible as part of the Sunday Mass. Yet, for the most part, we choose to celebrate the sacrament privately. The Sacrament welcomes the child in the community of the church. It is the first sacrament of the sacraments and the first welcome into the Catholic Church
John the Baptist invited those who wanted to have a change of lifestyle to receive baptism in the river Jordan. Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry, made his way to the Jordan to be baptised by John. Jesus didn’t hide from others nor did he ask John the Baptist to meet him privately so that he could be baptised. He joined others who have gathered to listen to John. On the banks of the river Jordan Jesus is declared the Son of God.
At baptism we are welcomed into the church, commissioned to live our lives as Christian and as we receive the other sacraments of welcome we commit to build a relationship with Jesus through prayer, reflection and living the Gospel message in our daily lives.
The welcoming into the church of a new member should be a public welcome. Parents, God-parents, family and friends gather with the local church, the parish community, to welcome the new-born child or the adult into the church community. In a time when fewer and fewer people commit to living as members of the church it is more important than ever that we celebrate baptism with the community. The role of a supportive and praying Christian community helping parents and godparents in their duty as Christian parents is vital for the continued growth of the church.
As metioned above, Jesus used his baptism in the Jordan to launch his public ministry. From the Jordan he began to proclaim the message of the Good News. He gathered his disciples and built his community of the faithful around him. Today’s feast offers a clear message for parishes and Christian communities. We are encouraged to look at how we prepare for and celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism. Furthermore, we are asked to reflect on how we live our lives as baptised members of the Catholic Church.
For me there are a few questions we must ask ourselves on this feast day of the Baptism of the Lord:
1. Am I living out my baptismal calling by witnessing to the Gospel and the teaching of the Church in my daily life?
2. Am I doing what I can be an active member of my parish community?
3. Do I consider it my responsibility as a baptised Christian to support other members of my parish community to live the message of the Gospel in their daily lives?