January 13,2019: The Baptism of the Lord - Associate Pastor’s Corner
Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. We fast forward from the Magi’s encounter with the Holy Family to Jesus being around 30 years old, getting baptized. (Fr. Michael talk about this in length in our weekly podcast, “St Dominic’s Weekly”, found on iTunes.) But for most of us, we were baptized as infants. And honestly - infant baptisms are fun. And especially in a baptismal rite with infants or children, we see manifest the many ways that Lord loves and claims us as His own. I would like to contemplate the many symbols we use in the Baptismal Rite, which many of us, I would presume, have had the privilege to witness.
Water. After my sojourn in Calcutta in May 2018, I was reminded, once again, of the importance of water. There, you must be incredibly cautious (and in some parts, cautious to the point of paranoia) on surveying the cleanness of water.
Water does so many things for us. Think of how many times, in how many ways, we use water within the past few hours. Last week, in fact, the priory hot water heater acted up, and the saying is true: you don’t understand how good you have it until ‘it’ is taken away!
Water cleanses and refreshes us. It gives us life. Water is part of what we are: our bodies are bags of mostly water.
Just so, as water is critical in giving us bodily life, so it is with baptism. Water is the element used for this Sacrament and, as such, is the instrument which opens the road to eternal life, and allows us to be deigned “child of God”.
Easter Candle. The most obvious times to baptize is on today’s feast (at the 9:30 Mass) and during the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. The Easter Candle is a sign of Christ Jesus, the Light of the World. By virtue of Easter Candle being lit, Christ is truly present, presiding over the Baptismal Liturgy (Christ using His Priest as an instrument) in order to beget a new child of God.
White garment. White is the color of victory and resurrection. This is why the child or catechumen changes into a white garment after the baptism. It signifies Christ’s victory over sin and death, and allows the new Christian to hope in his or her own bodily Ressurection at the end of time.
Sacred Chrism Oil is used three times within the life of the Church, during a Baptism, during Confirmation, and during the ordination of a priest or a bishop. Infused with balsam perfume, and consecrated once a year by the bishop, symbolizes that every baptized Christian is “another Christ,” that is, “anointed” in order to proclaim the good news and do good works in order to glorify God.
Godparents and parents are not symbols, but a reminder that when we are baptized, we are baptized into a community of believers. It is with great joy that we will have baptisms at the 9:30 Sunday Mass, a time for the Christian community of Saint Dominic’s to welcome new members in the family of God. Baptism is not a family event, just for a singular nuclear family; rather, it is a public event, a declaration of a family saying that they are Christian.
As we contemplate Jesus’ own baptism this day, let us reflect that we too are children of God.
~Fr. Isaiah Mary Molano, O.P.