There is a story told about St. Patrick, a 5th-century Bishop, known as the “Apostle of reland”
Once he passed through a kingdom named Munster when the Prince King Aengus, came forth to meet him.
>> This prince had already obtained some knowledge of Christianity, and asked the grace of holy baptism from the saint.
Now a bishop always carries a crozier ( a stylish staff, symbol of the governing office of a Bishop) with him.
St. Patrick’s crozier had a metal spike, so that he could stick it into the ground.
When he began to baptize Aengus, he stuck his crozier into the ground beside him.
>> But the crozier did not go into the ground, it went instead right through Aengus’s foot!!
The prince did not even moan, but just went a bit pale….
>> St. Patrick, however, went on with the ceremony, not knowing what he had done.
After the ceremony, St Patrick turned to take his crozier from the ground.
>> He saw the ground splattered with blood!
He was horrified when he realized what he had done….
“Why didn’t you say something?” Patrick asked.
Aengus answered, “Well! I thought it was part of the baptism ceremony!”
The new convert didn’t complain of the deep pain & even the loss of blood, thinking it was part of the ceremony.
>> We could perhaps laugh over it!
>> We could perhaps feel, “how immature he was!”
>> We could perhaps think that he was too naive in his understanding of Baptism!
But then, think of it, from another perspective….
>>> Is not pain an intrinsic element of Baptism?
>>> Is not shedding blood a real part of Baptism?
Is Baptism, today, become a mere ritual with celebrations and get-togethers?
>> Or is Baptism a life-transforming process, with its intrinsic elements of pain and sacrifices?
Today, Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus.
The liturgical season of Christmas, celebrating the self-revelation of God through Jesus, comes to an end with the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord.
This incident of the Baptism of Jesus is greatly significant and important….
It is one of the few passages that appears in all the four Gospels.
>> It was the first public revelation of the Three Persons of the Trinity
>> It was the first official declaration of Jesus as the Son of God to the world
… it was a moment of identification with us sinners.
… it was a moment of decision to begin His public ministry.
… it was a moment of approval when His Father called Him as His “beloved Son”.
Each one us, as Christians have been baptized in the Lord!
What does Baptism mean to us?
>> What has Baptism meant to us?
Baptism is a time when we call ourselves to have ” put on” Christ…
… a time of conversion…from the old to the new!
For a moment, lets borrow the idea of how the Jewish conversion would be effected…so that we could have a better and a deeper understanding of our Christian Baptism.
For a Gentile to become a full-fledged Jew there was a basic three-step process…
1. The first was to offer a sacrifice
A heifer or a pair of turtledoves was brought to the priest and given as a burnt offering to God. This meant some expense involved.
>> It required hardship, forfeiting and sacrifice oneself to become a new person!
2. The second was circumcision – the cutting away of a piece of flesh from a man’s body.
For a Jewish boy, this was done when he was 8 days old, thus the pain wasn’t remembered.
But an adult male, who wanted to become a Jewish proselyte, had to undergo this procedure, regardless of his age.
>> It required deep pain, immense agony and even shedding of blood to become a new person!
3. The third was baptism.
The person stripped off all of his clothes.
He then went into the water naked before the Rabbis…dipped himself under water making sure to fully immerse his entire body!
>> It required a lot of humility and self-sacrifice to become a new person!
Christian Baptism doesn’t have these external signs and actions as that of the Jews.
>> But the internal aspects are much more strongly present…and even more valid!
To be a Baptised Person in Jesus – a passage from the Old to the New, requires….
1. Sacrifice of oneself
…. Willingness to sacrifice one’s life for the Lord, in the form of money, talents, time, energy etc…
He who wishes to follow me, must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me (Mt 16:24)
2. Undergoing pain and suffering
… Openness to share the agony and grief of life through various life situations and being patient and faithful in all trials …
“The Lord your God will circumcise your heart… to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” (Dt 30: 6)
3. Embracing a life of humility and dependence on God
… Readiness to overcome our pride, our selfish desires and interests and allow God’s grace and mercy to flow through us…
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1Pet 5:6)
The Catholic Baptism has some of the following elements, which are powerful pointers to recognise the worth and depth of this Sacrament…
>> Recalls the many miracles from the Old Testament…
… Noah’s Flood for a new creation
… The Crossing of the Red Sea, by dying to the past and welcoming a new beginning
… Moses bringing water from the rock symbolizing the new life in Christ
… The cleansing of the leper Naaman in the waters of Jordan showing the purifying and sanctifying action.
2. Baptismal Garment
>> Symbolized purity from the stain of the original sin and the call to live in holiness and sanctity, clothed in white, washed in the blood of the Lamb.
3. The Baptismal Candle
>> Represents the Flame of Grace that is kindled at Baptism and the utmost care to be taken to keep it away from being extinguished by the wind of mortal sin.
>> It also shows the acceptance of Jesus, the Light of the World and His Word to be a “lamp for one’s feet and a light to one’s path” (Ps 118: 105)
4. The Oil of Anointing
>> The Oil of Anointing is the seal that we are blessed to be called the children of God and the members of the Holy Church
>> It is the initiation into the three-fold ministry – being a Prophet, being a Priest and being a Shepherd – just like Jesus.
5. God Parents
>> They represent the Church, committing themselves to the growth, guidance and guarding of the spiritual life of the Baptised person
Most of us have been Baptized when we were too little…
We were not aware….
>> But those who loved us and cared for us, were aware.
Baptism was a beginning… an initiation…into a life of grace…a journey with the Lord!
The Spirit of the Lord is within us…
>> And the call from deep within us is strong….
“Rise up from slumber, if you are sleeping…
As a Baptised Christian, you have a very noble vocation and an immense responsibility…
Christian Life is no joke
… it does not tolerate passivity
… it does not allow lethargy!
>> Mother Church is waiting to embrace you in deep love with Her Sacraments…
>> Mother Mary and all the Saints and Angels are encouraging you to become a Saint…
Yes, You are a Baptized Child of God
…Consecrated to the Lord
… Holy to Him!
> Be true…
>> Be Faithful…
>>> Be Enthusiastic…
>>>> Be Proud.. to be a Christian”
Yes, let us re-kindle the fire and love of being a Christian….
Let’s renew our Baptism!
>> Let’s live our Baptism!
Happy Feast to all of us baptized with our Dearest Lord!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “When the daughter of a strange land was about to espouse an Israelite, the law commanded her to put off the garment of her captivity, to pare her nails, and to shave her head;
>> Even so the soul which aims at the dignity of becoming the spouse of Christ, must put off the old man, and put on the new man, forsaking sin…
… moreover, it must pare and shave away every impediment which can hinder the Love of God!”