Today we celebrate the Feast that recalls the manifestation of Jesus as our Messiah – His Baptism! Each Thursday as we recite the First Luminous Mystery, we revisit that beautiful visual in the Jordan River of Jesus making the waters holy for us, of the Holy Spirit coming upon Him, of the heavens that were closed by Adam’s sin being opened, and of the voice of the Father so pleased with the obedience of His Son; so happy for His Plan that awaits each of us who has put on a clean garment at our own Baptism.
Baptisms at our church are magnificent! They’re often held at the Sunday Mass, which makes it a celebration for everyone! When the big moment arrives, all eyes are on the baptismal font at the back of the church where the infant receives water and spirit. Afterward, the family proceeds before the altar and stands under a bright skylight from which a wooden cross is suspended. Our pastor takes the infant into the palms of his hands and lifts the little bundle toward Heaven, elevating it as high as his arms will extend! As the child is held there, everyone joins the priest in prayer.
As we pray together for the child reborn, we are reminded of how blessed we are to have been saved through this beautiful sacrament, given to us by Jesus Himself. Jesus said to Nicodemus “Unless one is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to this very conversation, that baptism is necessary for our salvation – “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism, we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word.'” (Catechism, Para. 1213)
The good news is that every person who is not already baptized may be baptized! God can fit any one of us into the palms of His perfect and loving hands and lift us up to a new life with Him! We needn’t be babies! Everyone, teens and adults of all ages, even the dying, can once again become children – children of God.