Feast of the Baptism of the Lord | January 10, 2021 Essay
As we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we should prayerfully reflect on our own baptism and what our baptism calls forth from us. Living in faithfulness to our baptismal vocation, our lives and our world will be richly blessed in this new year.
How sad it is that so few Christians regularly call to mind what is now ours by virtue of our baptism. In baptism, we die to sin so as to rise to the newness of life in the risen Christ. Each one of us participates, here and now, in the risen life of Jesus Christ. What a remarkable truth that is! We dwell now in the risen Christ and Christ dwells in us. As remarkable as that truth is, it leads us to a still more remarkable truth. As we live in faithfulness to the risen life of Christ in us, we strengthen our confidence that one day we will enjoy the fullness of Christ’s risen life forever. Amazing! Admittedly, it is quite difficult for us to reflect on this truth, and to deepen our appreciation and appropriation of this truth; that we dwell now in the risen life of Christ so as to have the real and certain hope of one day knowing the fullness of his risen life forever. What makes it difficult for us to reflect on this truth, so as to own this truth, is that it so exceeds our human capacity to understand it. At the same time, we are still able to intuitively grasp what this truth calls forth from us, and, unfortunately, many persons recoil from what this truth calls forth from them.
As we now share in the risen life of Christ by virtue of our baptism, we should desire to deepen and strengthen our participation in his risen life. This requires a regular practice of prayer. To pray is simply to share honestly with God all of your own hopes, dreams, desires, doubts, and disappointments, and then to quiet yourself to hear God speak to you of all that is right, beautiful, and true in your life, but also what needs to change in your life if you are to be faithful to that risen life of Christ in which you now share. To deepen and strengthen our participation in the risen life of Christ also requires that we actively seek to make his life our life which we do when we shape our daily living according to his values – his values of compassion, generosity, mercy, forgiveness, selflessness, service to all, and an active concern for the poor, the vulnerable and marginalized of our world. Here is where many Christians recoil from doing what is required in order to strengthen their participation in the risen life of Christ within them so as to also strengthen their hope of one day enjoying the fullness of that life forever.
The values of Jesus Christ are clearly not the values of this world. It is, therefore, difficult each day to consciously choose to conform our lives to his values rather than simply acquiescing to a life lived in conformity to the values of this world. Yet, it is only by our willingness to conform our values to the values of Jesus Christ, that we deepen our participation in his risen life, strengthen our hope of one day sharing in that life forever, and serve as instruments through whom this world is transformed so that it better reflects God’s original vision for it. May we make of this new year a blessing for us and for our world by our embrace of our baptismal vocation!
– Rev. Mark Hallinan, S.J.