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Baptism is enough

By Br Mark O'Connor FMS, 24 October 2019

 

‘The Baptism of Jesus’

The First Luminous Mystery

 

Baptism is enough,

it is sufficient to evangelise.

—Pope Francis

 

Tragically, Baptism today can often just be a rubber stamp into a school, or an excuse for a party, or something done to please a grandparent or older relative who feels it should be more important to the couple presenting a child for Baptism than it often can appear.

But Baptism is not something in our past! We live it out all our lives.

When Jesus is baptised he accepts his mission. Baptism is not something done to him; it is a confirmation of his mission. When we are baptised we too are given a mission, and that mission is to bring the Good News of the Gospel with us, into the arena of our living.

It is the same mission of compassion and justice given to Jesus of Nazareth at the Jordan. Jesus had not yet worked out a plan of action when he met John the Baptist. He was immediately seduced by this desert prophet. He had never seen anyone like him. Jesus’ baptism suggests that he shared John’s vision for Israel (which at the time was experiencing a hopeless situation under corrupt temple leadership) that involved radical repentance, forgiveness and a sense of living in community.

After being baptised by John, Jesus sees himself as the beloved Son of God, in whom God’s Spirit fully dwells. Breathed upon by this Spirit, Jesus begins to announce to everyone, through his life and his message, the Good News of a God who is friend and saviour to every human being.

Baptism—and all sacraments, for that matter—is so much more than the passing moment of a celebration. It neither begins nor ends with the liturgical ritual.

Baptism does not bring God’s love into being as if that love did not exist before the ceremony. Baptism is the Church’s way of celebrating and enacting the embrace of God who first loved us from the moment of our conception.

As Pope Francis often preaches, our faith will only flourish if we recover a profound sense of the beauty of this simple ritual. For Baptism touches the deepest dramas of human life: birth, growing up, falling in love, daring to give oneself to others, searching for meaning, becoming an adult, coping with suffering and failure, and eventually death.

As that great preacher and biblical scholar Archbishop Mark Coleridge once remarked: ‘Baptism is the Paschal Mystery with my name on it!’

Catholicism will flourish in the 21st century if we can grasp that the Church is above all the community of the baptised. Baptism is the great mystery of our faith.

 

STEPPING IN THE MUD

The mud of human evil

is very deep,

it stinks forcefully,

it is full of dangerous gases,

and there was Jesus,

in front of John,

asking to be allowed

to bend down in that mud.

And John,

no wonder,

hesitated.

But he, Jesus,

he went down,

and when he came up,

the mud still streaming …

HEAVEN OPENED,

and a voice was heard …

and a new Spirit,

a new life

and a new heart

were announced,

glory, glory, alleluia.

He was bathed in light …

drowned in God’s voice …

full of spirit;

but what about the mud,

was he going to forget it?

… No,

because once he got the spirit,

that Spirit drove him …

to do his work

in this world,

to struggle with evil in us …

in this world,

in order to overcome it.

—Joseph Donders

 

Think about it:

  1. ‘Baptism is not something in our past! We live it out all our lives.’ What awareness do you have of your own Baptismal call? Is it something others can see and experience being lived out? If so, how? If not, why?
  2. Through Baptism Jesus sees himself as the beloved Son of God ‘in whom God’s Spirit fully dwells’. Do you see yourself as a beloved son or daughter of our God? Do you care for yourself in a way that reflects this awareness? If so, how? If not, how might you be kinder to yourself in the future?
  3. ‘Baptism is the Paschal Mystery with my name on it.’ Reflect on the ways only you, with your unique gifts and talents, can be and bring the Good News into our world.

 

Br Mark O’Connor FMS is the Vicar for Communications in the Diocese of Parramatta.

 

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