Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Baptism of Jesus

In today's Gospel, we hear about the Baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan.  Luke tells us that the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove.  Then, everyone heard the voice of God the Father saying: "You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased."  God the Father is a proud father introducing his son. 
After His baptism, Jesus began his public ministry.  Next week, we will hear about Jesus' first miracle, converting water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana.    Jesus public ministry continued for three years.  During this time, he selected and taught twelve disciples who he prepared to lead his church.  When it was time, he went to Jerusalem where he was crucified and died.  After rising from the dead three days later, he appeared to His disciples several times over the next forty days.  Finally, Jesus ascended into heaven.  His final words to his apostles were:  "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  The apostles went into hiding for several days.  Then, at Pentecost, tongues of fire descended on each of them and our church was off and running.  They followed Jesus directions and baptized 3000 people that day.  That is enough to fill this church four times over.  Isn't that amazing!
When we were baptized, we were welcomed into God's family.  Most of us were baptized as infants.   I'd like you to think about your baptism.   Do you know the date of your baptism?  Who was present there?  You probably wore a white garment signifying your freedom from all sin after baptism.  Your father was given a candle which he lit from the Easter candle.  Do you still have this candle?    After giving the father the candle, the priest or deacon says: "Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly.  These children of yours have been enlightened by Christ.  They are to walk always as a child of the light.  May they keep the flame of faith alive in their hearts.  When the Lord comes, may they go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom."
Sometimes we forget our baptism, aren't aware of its meaning, or even ignore it.  But, as baptized Christians, our calling is to live as beloved, as one who pleases God.  This call is not due to anything we’ve done; for we have not earned it.  It is pure gift.  We are sons and daughters of the Father.   We have been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  We are the body of Christ in the world, sent to bring justice and compassion, to be a light in our world and bread for the hungry.
At our baptism, we received an indelible mark on our soul marking us as a child of God.  Like the apostles, in our adult life we are meant to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.  We are to make disciples of all our children, friends, neighbors, and even enemies,  just like Jesus told his disciples before he ascended into heaven. 
How are we doing in our mission of making disciples?  We may look at others: our parents, our children, our friends, our fellow parishioners, and maybe even our deacons, priests, and bishops, and see that they are failing at their mission.  But, on judgment day, we aren't going to be held accountable for their actions, only for ours. 
Like Jesus, we all want to hear the words of God the Father: "You are my beloved son or you are my beloved daughter, with you I am well pleased."  I encourage you to listen to the Holy Spirit.  Is he calling you to repent?  What mission does he have in mind for you?