Yesterday, we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, which marks the end of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar. Centuries ago, the baptism of Christ was celebrated as part of the feast of the Epiphany, but in 1955, Pope Pius XII placed it a week later.
This feast day marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, and because it is considered one of the most significant events in Jesus’ adult life, Pope John Paul II identified Jesus’ baptism as the first mystery in his set of Luminous Mysteries, which he introduced to the world on October 16, 2002, on the 24th anniversary of his election to the papacy.
Most of us do not remember our own baptisms because we were likely baptized as infants. I, however, vividly remember, in great detail, the baptisms of each of my four children and five grandchildren. They are significant and joyful events permanently emblazoned in my memory. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we receive five “fruits” or “graces” on this special day: 1.) All our sins, both original and personal, are forgiven, 2.) Baptism makes us a Child of God, 3.) We become members of the Body of Christ – the Church, 4.) We enter into Communion with all Christians, and 5.) We receive an indelible spiritual mark, a character on our soul. Baptism is only done once, and it is irreversible. It is also the only sacrament mentioned explicitly in the Nicene Creed. Because we do not likely remember our own baptisms, each year, on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, we are called to reflect on the promises that were made for us on that day, which marked the initial first step in our faith journey, and we are asked to recommit ourselves to our faith. So important is this sacrament, that we renew our baptismal vows again at Easter, usually at the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday Masses.
My daughter was born on December 30 (29 years ago!) and we were very blessed to have her baptized on the same weekend as the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. We are reminded of the anniversary of her baptism most specially every year. One of our own St. Michael’s School families also experienced this blessing by having their 3 children baptized this past Friday evening. Congratulations to the Valles family: Armando in 5B, Alix in 2B, and Alissandra in K2. Welcome to our Christian family, and may you use your newfound grace to grow in faith and serve God.