Fr Vincent's reflections on the Baptism of the Lord
Celebrating the baptism of Jesus is a good time for us to reflect on our own baptism into Christ Jesus. What was it like? What effect did it have on us? What does it mean for you and me today?
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the Baptism of the Lord
Read the text:
Baptism of the Lord - 2021
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 2021, let us pray:
Almighty ever-living God,
who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan
and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him,
solemnly declared him your beloved Son,
grant that your children by adoption,
reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,
may always be well pleasing to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
Hopefully you have your Bible with you to follow along. If not, please pause the video to retrieve your Bible.
The Gospel today is Mark 1:7-11.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the holy Spirit.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
I’m envious of those who can remember their actual Baptism. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled my parents had me baptized within two weeks of my birth, yet, I often wonder what it would feel like to be consciously aware of the moment of baptism. I have spoken with many adults who were baptized through RCIA, and each has a different experience: from just being overwhelmed by the cold water, (we have learned how to get the water at least a little warmer), to experiencing an “opening” of their senses, to those who could find no words to describe the interior joy. That’s why I’d love to experience for myself!
If you are like me, and want a personal experience of Baptism, then this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a chance to use our prayer and God-given imagination to have that spiritual experience.
It starts by allowing ourselves to “feel” a spiritual call from God. I identify the incompleteness of my spiritual life. I know there is more depth to my soul than I seem to feel when satisfied by earthly joys. Such as, I have a great time talking and sharing with a friend, and I feel really good that he can support my hopes and dreams, but there is still something missing. Then I realize that God knows me through-in-through, and He knows me without conversation. I find myself wanting to commit to that relationship and act on my commitment by professing my love for God and I want to feel His love for me.
Then I want to learn everything I can about who God is. After all, I know that He knows everything about me, and I want a real two-way relationship if I’m going to commit myself. I want to know why did He send His Son, Jesus, to the world. So, I start reading the Bible, not as an information book, but as a source of personal revelation about who God is and why He does what He does. The Bible becomes words of self-revelation from God so that I can know Him and get closer to Him. I feel my friendship growing. The mystery of God is no longer so distant from me or above me. He’s getting closer and I’m getting closer.
Jesus is the expression of God’s love for humanity, so I start working on that relationship, too. His words are truly important; my Bible even has Jesus’ words in red! I see they are not merely words, but “words to live by,” and I start reading them over and over, finding a growing comfort and challenge from them. But they, too, draw me closer to God and deeper in my longing for this one-of-a-kind relationship.
It’s because the words of Jesus challenge me as much as they give me comfort that I realize I must do something if I am ever going to succeed in those times of challenge. I hear it clearly from the words of Jesus. He must live in me if I am to live in Him, and the only way to succeed with the challenges of God’s word is to have that intimate living connection with Jesus. And the only way that is possible is through Baptism. I must die to myself so that I can rise and live with Jesus, my Christ!
To be ready for Baptism, I must choose to reject whatever is contrary to God’s will and presence in my life. Once I accept that Satan and sin cannot have a place in my life, and I speak my rejection of all that is evil, then I am ready to acknowledge that God is meant to be central to my thoughts, words, and actions. I make my commitment in word: “I believe.” Then I need to follow it up with a defining action – Baptism.
I’ve been warned that the water is cold, so I brace myself! But my desire is so strong and my commitment so firm, that it is not cold, but simply refreshing as I step into to pool. I immediately have a desire to be fully immersed. This is not a time for half-hearted gestures. I want to give everything I have and everything I am to Christ. As I hear the words – “I baptize you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – they sound so close and so distant, they are in me and outside of me, they are the words of a priest, but they are the words of Jesus himself! I feel the water on my head, but it’s not just water: it’s fire and water, it’s wind and breath. I thought I knew what life was, but this is something totally new. My senses are changed, as some have told me. There is brightness all around me, so my vision is clearer; my skin tingles with greater feeling, like every nerve is on alert; my ears are sharper and open to sounds I’ve never heard before; I smell everything more distinctly and more fragrant than ever before. It’s not my life anymore, but it is the life of Christ. He has filled me, and I belong to him, now and forever! This is an indescribable joy, even as I try to put it into words. Baptism is life itself!
I hope you enjoyed my spiritual imagination, because in truth, whenever we consider our baptism, no matter how long ago or at what age of consciousness, it is meant to be just as I’ve described it: the journey of initiation into a committed life with and in Jesus Christ. He showed us how to be baptized by accepting the baptism of John. And even having Father and Spirit with him in that moment confirms that Heaven and earth are united when we are baptized. It is clearly Jesus’ hope that we never lose this connection to him and our spiritual life in him. So reliving the spiritual truth of our baptism is something to be done, not just once-a-year, but whenever we are feeling less than connected to God and our faith.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.