Saturday, January 9, 2010

Prepared for Baptism?

The Baptism of the Lord
(Luke 3:15-16, 21-22)

Before performing a baptism, the priest approached the young father and said solemnly:

"Baptism is a serious step. Are you prepared for it?"

"I think so," the man replied. "My wife has made appetizers and we have a caterer coming to provide plenty of cookies and cakes for all of our guests."

"I don't mean that," the priest responded. "I mean, are you prepared spiritually?"
Jesus' baptism in the river Jordan heralded his public ministry.
In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI relates the theological dimension of Jesus' baptism:

"Because of the cross and resurrection it becomes clear to Christians what had occurred: Jesus took on his shoulders the weight of the sin of all humanity; he took it with him into the Jordan. From the beginning of his activity he takes the place of sinners. There begins the anticipation of the cross...Thus one understands the reason why in his own discourses Jesus uses the word baptism to refer to his own death. (Matt 10:38; Luke 12:50)".

To us followers in turn, baptism refers to our own initiation into Christianity. It opens to us the one true path to salvation, by the grace of God. Thus in CCC 1214: This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature.".

Yet we still need to cooperate with God's grace freely given, as CCC 1254 says "... faith must grow after Baptism...for this reason the Church celebrates each year at the Easter Vigil the renewal of baptismal promises. Preparation for Baptism leads only to the threshold of new life.." and in CCC 1255 : "For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important..."

And that is why before performing the baptism, the above priest asked the young father:

"I mean, are you prepared spiritually?".

To which the young father replied: "Oh sure, I’ve got a keg of beer and a case of whiskey.".

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