Thoughts on baptism


Reflections

An exciting and spiritual time in a family is the time of celebration when a child is baptized.  

Here, a child is washed clean of the original sin that they inherited from Adam and Eve. They are made members of a church; and, they become part of the Body of Christ. They are given the title “Christian” and are called a “child of God.”  

They become very dear to the Lord Jesus Christ who said: “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10:14)  It is a time for parents to thank God for the gift of their child.  And a time for the godparents to commit to assist the parents in helping them raise the child in the practice of the faith.  

Baptisms are great blessings in the Church and are often celebrated.

Now that the Christmas season is coming to an end, that is, the celebration of Jesus’ birth, one can begin to think about Jesus’ baptism, especially the purpose for his baptism. Jesus’ baptism is mentioned in the three synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. According to Matthew’s Gospel, John the Baptist was confused about it. He said to Jesus when Jesus approached him: “I ought to be baptized by you, and you come to me?” (Matt 3:14) Jesus’ response was: “Allow it for now to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matt 3:15)

As the Son of God, Jesus did not need to be baptized to remove any sin. And yet he asked for it for a several reasons.  

One reason was that he was like us in all ways but sin, and so he desired to be baptized to show his unity with us.  

Another reason is that it marked the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  

Now, after his baptism, he would begin to preach and teach and perform his miracles. Just so, our baptism marks the beginning of our ministry. Even though we are only infants, the mission that God gives us will grow and increase as we do. 

Then, immediately after Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came down upon him to strengthen him. (Matt 3:16) And we know that the same Holy Spirit comes to us at our Baptism to give us his many gifts which will also grow and increase as we do.

But maybe the greatest reason for Jesus’ baptism is that it was his way of being completely obedient to the father’s will “his way of acknowledging it as an expression of an unrestricted Yes to God’s will, as an obedient acceptance of his yoke.” (Joseph Ratzinger)

Like John the Baptist, we are a bit confused for the complete reason for Jesus’ baptism, it certainly is a mystery. But like all mysteries, our understanding of them can grow as we ponder these events. 

Again, now that we are at the end of celebrating Jesus’ birth, it is time to ponder his baptism; and, to ponder the meaning of our own baptism as well.  

Think about how heaven and earth rejoice when another person becomes a child of God.

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