The Baptism Of Our Lord.

Today we celebrate the great feast day of the Baptism of Our lord. It has been said that the most important day of our lives is our Baptism, the day when we were grafted onto Christ. When St. Pope St. John Paul II went back to visit his country Poland for the first time, his first visit was to the parish church of Wadowice, where he was baptised. St. Louis IX king of France in the 12th century signed himself Louise of Poissy – near Paris – the place of his Baptism, and not Rheims where he was crowned. Carlos V, King of the Spanish Empire in the 15th century, stated that his Baptism was a much greater blessing than his coronation as King of the Empire. The majority of us here today were baptised as infants. At our Baptism we were initiated into the mission of Christ. All religions and civilisations have their initiation ceremony. The Roman youth puts on the Toga Virilis (a white toga that roman boys were allowed to wear when they reached the age of 15); the Hindu youth puts on the Sacred Cord, and the Christian puts on the Baptismal Robe. Baptism is a sacrament and an important milestone in all our lives. Because of the rampant secularism in our world today the true meaning of the sacraments seems to get side-lined and for some families the baptism of a child is more a social event, than a religious celebration, a statement of faith. I rememebr on one occasion after a Baptism that I had performed; I got a call the next day from the father of the child asking me if we could do the baptism again as the photographer had no film in the video camera. When we think of our own Baptism, the first thing that comes to mind is original sin. It is true that Baptism takes away original sin, but there is another very important effect of Baptism; we are incorporated into the Christian community. Baptism is a rite of initiation. We are incorporated into the Church. How many of us consider our incorporation into the Church as a privilege? We are all very proud of our families and even when there are shortcomings (it happens in the best of families), we are still proud of our family. How many of us experience this same pride in our belonging to the Church, despite all that has gone on in the church? In Baptism we receive a share in Christ’s mission; we are commissioned to share in Christ’s work, to spread God’s Kingdom all over the world. We are all aware of the challenges facing our church today and our communities with the shortage of priests and because of this more and more responsibility will fall on the lay people. As a parent, do I teach the faith to my children by word and example? Do I spread God’s kingdom in my neighbourhood, in my work? Do I participate and give of my time and energy to my local Parish and community? The graces that we received at Baptism need to be fanned into flame. We need to share our faith. This feast of the Baptism of our Lord is a good time to think about our Baptism and what it means to us. It is a good time to think seriously why we choose to baptise infant members of our family. It should be a decision we make only out of an authentic faith commitment.