“Allowing the fire of God’s Love that has been kindled in us at Baptism, to blaze in us, setting many other souls on fire for love of God!”
(Based on the Baptism of the Lord)
An incident is told about St Katherine of Alexandria.
Katherine was a noble and learned young woman in this cultural hub of the ancient world of the 4th century.
She was a Christian.
She had attained a lot of popularity in the town of Alexandria.
This was the time of the persecution of Christians by Emperor Maxentius.
Christians were given only two options:
Worshipping the emperor (which would violate the First Commandment)…
… or being put to death
The Governor of Alexandria also came up with another plan to humiliate and discourage the Christians.
He invited Katherine to debate a group of fifteen (some say 50) of the best pagan philosophers and orators…
… hoping that this dispute would refute all her pro-Christian arguments and thus morally discourage other Christians as well!
Katherine accepted the challenge.
They gathered in the governor’s palace and the discussion began.
But the plan backfired.
Instead of Katherine being converted, several members of the panel (some sources say all members)
They asked for baptism immediately, so as to receive God’s Grace into their souls.
But the governor was furious and condemned them all to immediate death.
To that, Katherine with concern and care assured all the new converts that since they so sincerely desired to receive the sacrament…
… their own blood would take the place of water, and their own martyrdoms would take the place of baptism.
Those men were willing to give up everything else, for their life and friendship with Jesus Christ!
That’s the power of God’s Love!
And that’s the Power of Witnessing to God’s Love!
The fire of God’s Love that was kindled in St Katherine of Alexandria, at Baptism…
… continued to blaze in her, setting many other souls on fire for love of God!
Does the Fire of Love, that had been kindled in us, at our Baptism…
… continue to blaze powerfully in us?
Or has the fire been diminished and lessened?
Today, Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus…
… with an invitation: To “fan into flames” (Cf. 2 Tim 1:6) the fire of God’s Love that has been kindled in us, at our Baptism!
The event of the Baptism of the Lord is narrated in all the Synoptic Gospels…
… and the Gospel of St John mentions the experience of St John the Baptist at the Baptism of Jesus.
One important aspect that the Baptism of Jesus teaches us is that, it is the first public manifestation of Christ…
… and is a foreshadowing of the Saving Action that would be fully accomplished on the Cross.
On the Cross, our Blessed Lord will totally identify Himself with sinners…
… by embracing the enormous weight of humanity’s sinfulness
At Baptism, by submersion into the waters of River Jordan, Jesus identifies Himself with sinners, and embraces everyone to a New Life in Him!
… the immersion into the waters of Jordan symbolises His Death!
… the rising from the deep waters symbolise His Resurrection!
St Ambrose reminds us: “The Lord was Baptized, not to be cleansed Himself, but to cleanse the waters…
… so that those waters, cleansed by the flesh of Christ which knew no sin, might have the power of Baptism!”
The Baptism of Jesus, then, is the great reminder to all humanity:
- We are all sinners, and we can find Mercy only in Jesus, the Saviour of the world
- We are all bestowed with the gift of being a child of God, and called to live in holiness
Today is a day when we need to examine and renew our life, in the light of these two aspects…
… What are the weak spots of sins in my life, and can I make a resolution today to give them up?
… Do I daily nurture my life of holiness, by consciously practising virtues that I need to grow in?
… Have I embraced Jesus as the only Master of my life, and do I give priority to God’s Will in my life?
… Do I manifest Christ’s love in all my deeds, and thus draw many people to God’s Kingdom?
Venerable Fulton Sheen wonderfully illustrates the importance of the Rite of Baptism: “It may be objected, what good does a little water do, when poured upon the head of a child?
The water in the boiler can do nothing of and by itself, nor can the water on the head of a child.
But when the water in the boiler is united to the mind of an engineer, it can drive an engine across a continent or a ship across the sea.
… so too, when water is united to the Power of God, it can do more than change a crystal into life. It can take a creature and convert him into a child of God!”
The Baptism of Jesus is a reminder to all of us of our Mission to live as “Alter Christus – Another Christ!”
His deeds of compassion and love, ought to be imitated by all of us, in our works
His words of transformation and love, ought to be echoed by all of us, in our interactions
His acts of self-giving and forgiveness, ought to be emulated, in our relationships with one another
St John’s Gospel would beautifully recount: “But to all who received Him, who believed in His Name, He gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God!” (Jn 1:12-13)
Yes, the fire of God’s Love that has been kindled in us at Baptism…
… ought to continue to blaze in us, setting many other souls on fire for love of God!
Happy Feast to all of us, baptized with our Dearest Lord!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
SOCIETIES OF APOSTOLIC LIFE
Alongside the different forms of consecrated life are “societies of apostolic life whose members without religious vows pursue the particular apostolic purpose of their society…
… and lead a life as brothers or sisters in common according to a particular manner of life, strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions.
Among these there are societies in which the members embrace the evangelical counsels” according to their constitutions (CCC # 930)