Baptism of Our Lord

RENEWING OUR BAPTISM

By Fr. Chris Valka, CSB

This Sunday, we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, which has been a popular topic for Pope Francis. I have lost count of the number of times he has asked us to rediscover our own Baptism date and celebrate its anniversary as we do our birthdays.

Of course, most of us were Baptised when we were quite young and thus its significance is often lost on us as. However, even though it was not necessarily our choice, it is one of the definitive dates in our lives. The question we much each answer is why?

The best answer I can give you is to go read the Book of 1 Peter. It is only five chapters long, and it contains the basic instructions for Christian living – that is living out our Baptism. It also contains my favourite verses: Chapter 3:15-16 says, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks for a reason for your hope, but do so with gentleness and reverence. . .”

It is through our Baptism that such a sanctification occurs, and the more often we remind ourselves of that, the better. It is the primary reason we moved the Baptismal font to the back of this church. For those of you who have been around a while, you will remember that it has only been since Easter that the font has been in its current location permanently. Prior to Easter, it was kept in a corner and rolled out as needed, but it is through these waters that we come into the church, and so it needs to be at the entrance! (One day, I hope to have a permanent font with flowing water as it is a more appropriate symbol and reminder of the daily renewal of our faith as a constant, refreshing occurrence, but we aren’t quite there yet. . .)

However, it is not just the waters of new life that wash over us at Baptism, but also anointing with Sacred Chrism. In the Rite itself, we hear that just as Christ was anointed priest, prophet and king, so are we anointed so that we may share in His everlasting life.

Similar to Pope Francis, this is a point I think we need to rediscover: that regardless of our life status, we are ALL called to live as priests, prophets and kings. Obviously, this means we have to think about these roles beyond the traditional manner we understand them. In all cases, we have to think about what they do and not just who they are.

The primary role of a priest is to sacrifice and mediate for others. It means that in your work and family live, you are called to offer your life, time and energy for the sake of others.

The primary role of a prophet is to witness to God; specifically, to name God in all aspects of life. It is not enough to live justly or with good morals, but to create a space for God to be known in the world.

The primary role of king is to serve and protect, according to the authority given to him. Good kings (or queens) do not rule; rather they serve. This is what we are all called to do, according to the authority given to us by the Holy Spirit.

At the end of the day, your baptism is not an event of your past, or a passive requirement for membership. It is something we renew each day by actively belonging to the Christian community, as it is known to us in our local parishes.