Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Catechesis At Home – “This is my beloved Son”
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – Year B
We are completing the celebration of the Christmas Season with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Let’s explore a bit about what that means for us.
Whose child are you? When you were conceived you became the child of someone – two someones actually. You have a mother and a father. Those people may have raised you from birth, or you may have been raised by people other than your birth parents. There are myriad ways that families form and reform over time. Whoever you claim as parents are blessed to be so.
When we are Baptized, we become children of God. In our Baptism, we claim Him as our Father, infinitely more perfect than our earthly father. Jesus included us as His siblings when He taught us to pray: “Our Father, who art in heaven…”. He did not claim His Sonship without inviting us to join Him. That is an amazing mystery of our faith – we are invited to participate in the divinity of our Lord because He joined us in our humanity.
With Jesus’ Baptism He instituted Baptism as a Sacrament. Prior to that, baptism as John did it was just a symbol of repentance. It did not impart any sanctification or wipe away the sins of the penitent as the sacrament does. It symbolized their sorrow and desire to change their lives, but it did not have the actual real physical and spiritual effects that the Sacrament of Baptism does for us. That was what Jesus accomplished in His Baptism – he gave the act a real physical and spiritual effect, causing it to be an outward sign of real Grace: A Sacrament. We say that He blessed the Baptismal waters for all time when He was baptized.
So, what are these physical and spiritual changes that happen at our Baptism? The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists out the effects of this Sacrament in paragraphs 1262-1274:
- By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin (1262).
- Baptism makes the [newly baptized] “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,” member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit (1265).
- Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: “Therefore . . . we are members one of another.” Baptism incorporates us into the Church (1267).
- Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation (1272).
The second point above is the focus of this lesson. We become, through the grace and gift of God, His children. And because of that, we are heirs to the inheritance of Eternal Life in Him. In short – we can go to heaven! Baptism is the first step on our journey to heaven. It is grace we can draw upon our entire lives to help us stay on the right path.
We can choose to cooperate with the grace, or we can ignore it. If you were baptized as an infant, your parents and godparents spoke on your behalf – a wonderful gift God gives to them. If you were baptized as an older child or an adult, you spoke for yourself. Imagine, in either case, a king giving you permission to speak in his presence and claim something for someone who cannot speak, or for yourself when you don’t really have any right to it. What a wonderful King!
What is it that we ask for in baptism? Faith.
Why? To receive eternal life.
Those are the two questions asked of people over the age of reason in the Rite of Acceptance. It is also the questions asked of parents and godparents on behalf of the child during a child’s baptism.
When we become children of God, we are given this gift of Faith. Just as with any gift, we can open it and use it as it is intended, or we can ignore it, put it on a shelf and forget about it, or leave it in the box. We can even misuse it.
ACTIVITY: This week spend some time looking at how you are using the gift of Faith you received in Baptism. Talk with your children about what they are doing with their gift, too. Attached is a page with a parent/child conversation starter for you to use.
Reflection on the Readings and further discussion as age appropriate:
There are two options for the 1st and 2nd readings and the Psalm this week. You will only hear one at Mass, but I encourage you to read through all of them. They all speak to the Covenant we enter at our own Baptism because Jesus Christ made it possible through His.
The first reading option from Isaiah (Is 42:1-4, 6-7) prefigures (represents beforehand; foreshadows) the baptism of Jesus. When I read this, I can see the way it points to Jesus and His role in the salvation of God’s people – past and present – all of us. Jesus is the New Covenant who fulfills the Old Covenants. Then reading the Gospel of Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism (Mk 1:7-11), we hear the words of God the Father, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Don’t we all want our Father to say the same about us? Am I doing my part in order to be pleasing to the Lord? In what ways have I ignored my Baptismal grace? In what ways have I cooperated with it? How can I do better? What do I need to ask specifically of the Holy Spirit in order to live my Christian faith more perfectly?
After spending some time reflecting and praying with these Scriptures and questions, ask those specific intentions of God. He desires nothing more than for you to grow in holiness. His grace is gushing over you just as the waters of baptism did. Bathe in the Spirit and be reborn in His Love. (The second option for the 2nd reading this week might give you some things to meditate upon: 1 Jn 5:1-9.)