The Sacrament of Baptism takes about twenty minutes to complete. Apart from the pouring of the water, there is an exorcism, two anointings, the clothing with a white garment, the giving of a lighted candle, some prayers and a blessing. The child is now baptised and may, in due course, proceed to First Communion and Confirmation. Baptism is our response to a call from God.
“Dear Children, the Christian community welcomes you with great joy.” Those being baptised are called to celebrate it as a community; it is not a ‘lone ranger’ experience, something private between God and the person being baptised. The Church celebrates it as a community because as a community, we pray together, rejoice together, grieve together, grow together. The deepest roots of our faith are tied to others, linked to those around us. We are part of something greater than ourselves.
It often takes time for the reality of baptism to ‘take root’ in the baptised person. This happens when the Holy Spirit stirs and awakens the baptised persons to a new awareness of who they are in God and who they have become through baptism. The Gospels describe Jesus coming to the river Jordan to be baptised by John the Baptist. As he re-emerges, Mark and Matthew describe his head breaking the waters. At that moment the heavens open and God’s voice is heard: “This is my Son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”
Fr Ron Rolheiser writes: “We need to be alert to the underlying image here of Jesus’ physically breaking the waters. When a child is born it breaks the waters of its mother’s womb. Jesus’ baptism is an image of birth: as his head breaks the waters of the Jordan he is being born into a new consciousness.” He now knows who he is and why he has come.
Baptism is more than just a blessing, or a prayerful occasion. It is the heavens opening and the voice of God inviting us to a deep awareness of who we are: we are personal followers Jesus Christ, and we are here on this earth to do his work. Baptism puts our hand to the plough of Christ’s mission on earth, to play our role in God’s plan for creation.
Fr QQ 1/12/18