Thought for the Week

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

 Dear Parishioners and friends who visit our website,

The decorations are back in storage until next December, the trees have disappeared from our living rooms and the cards have found their way to the recycling bin outside the back door.  Christmas 2019 is over and normal life has resumed.  For the Church Christmastide only comes to an end this weekend and even the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Candlemas, still harks back to the Nativity narrative.  In liturgical terms however, on Monday we are back to “ordinary time”, our celebrations will be more sober and our focus will again be on the day-to-day events of Jesus’s public ministry and exposure to his teaching.  It would be a mistake however not to cull the spiritual fruits and the lessons which this final day of Christmastide, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, offers us.  Baptism is the sacrament which all Christians have received and no one can claim to be a Christian, nor to belong to a Church in the Christian family of ecclesial communities, unless he/she has been baptised in the name of the Trinity through immersion or the pouring of water.

The widest ecumenical association that exists, the World Council of Churches, only admits as members those churches which initiate their members into the faith through Baptism.  Few of us have any recollection of our Baptism, most of us received it as infants.  But it was in that key moment that a new identity was bestowed on us, that we received divine life in our souls, that we became members of our church and, for us Catholics, Baptism was and remains the essential portal of entry into the sacramental life of grace and is the precondition of our reception of all the other sacraments.  This annual feast of the Lord’s Baptism offers us an opportunity to reflect on the implications for us of our own Baptism.

At the Easter Vigil each year, after the paschal candle has been partially immersed in the font of baptismal water, raised out again and lifted high, we are invited to renew the promises made on our behalf by our parents, guardians or godparents on the day we were ourselves baptised.  Our parents rejected evil on our behalf, they distanced themselves from the charms and wiles of Satan, and they professed belief in the central doctrines of the Creed.  We might ask ourselves are we still committed to the pursuit of good, the practice of virtue and the attainment of perfection to which we were called on the day of our Baptism.  We might also think, as we rattle our way through the Creed at Mass, whether or not we can give our full assent to the truths it proposes.  We were infants when our parents embraced the truths the Creed contains on our behalf; we are now adults and are invited to give our full and free assent to those same truths in the light of years of experience of living, often dangerously!  Let us then avail of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord to reassess our own identity defined by our Baptism and re-engage ourselves with the commitments made on our behalf the day we were christened.

Father Patrick

 

Fr Patrick’s previous “Thoughts” are in the Gallery.


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