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Saturday, January 10, 2015

The demands of Baptism

 Today as a Church we all reflect on the meaning of our baptism by looking at Jesus' own baptism. But first, since I missed Epiphany last Sunday with you I want to show how that event fits into today's mystery and today's challenge. At Epiphany, when the wise men come to worship the newborn king, we have a Manifestation of Christ and his divinity, and today of the entire Trinity. The star over Bethlehem is a symbol for the vocation of every Christian: God sets us up in our own place in this world to lead others to Jesus. Our lives need to shine with His light. Otherwise the modern-day wise men who are seeking out the truth, beauty, and goodness their hearts long for May never find the answer to their deepest longing.
John the Baptist was a star like that: he was a charismatic person who drew people to himself only because he wanted to point them to Jesus. "None born of woman greater than John, but even the least of the kingdom of heaven is greater than he". Whoa, talk about the power of baptism if even the least of us, no matter how unworthy we feel, is greater than John if we are born from above and live in God's kingdom!
After Jesus' Baptism, The Spirit immediately drove Him into the desert to reflect on this event, so that He could prepare for ministry by growing internally in His solid foundation of the call the Father had for Him. That is the point of prayer for us: preparation, formation, and knowledge of our mission. He needed to reflect on God's words: "You are my beloved Son, with you I am well-pleased."
In John Eldridge's Wild at Heart, a book about Christian manhood, he speaks of every young man having a "father wound." What he meant by that is every guy had a father who wasn't perfect and didn't affirm him or encourage him or support him in every way that one needed. I think that can of course go for every one of us, not just guys, because none of us had sinless fathers. Every dad falls short. And that precisely is the danger of not spending enough time reflecting on how God is our perfect Father. The "father wound" runs deep, and if we don't go to the desert to reflect on what God says to us from our baptism, we may never let that would heal.
We also reflect on our baptism to understand our mission in life, our vocation. The early church understood that Baptism had a profound effect on their lives. St. Josemaria Escriva recounts: Baptism makes us 'fideles', faithful. This is a word that was used — like 'sancti', the saints — by the first followers of Jesus to refer to one another. These words are still used today: we speak of the faithful of the Church. Reflect on this.
Vocation - Do the little things and don't just think about them. (De Sales) heaven is a real goal and it is a journey to get there. How could you expect to get somewhere if you don't take one step at a time in that direction?
When was the last time I changed my plans because of my relationship with God demanded it? Do I carve out time daily for prayer to hear God say to me "you are my beloved," and say to Him "Your will be done" and "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening"??
Or do I hit the spiritual snooze button? For that matter, do I hit the physical snooze button? Am I unable to get out of bed to pray because I wasted my time lastnight with things that are not part of my daily duties?

Yes Baptism changes us. Yes it demands something from us. It demands 100% commitment and total perseverance. Because Jesus gives Himself to us 100% on the cross and perseveres untiringly in His pursuit of our hearts, constantly knocking for us to let Him into our lives in a deeper way. In this Eucharist today, we thank the Lord for our Baptism, we ask that 2015 may help us to understand it and live it more fully, and we take one more step toward Him in the little things of our daily lives.

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