The power of Baptism Print
Bishop Hying's Column
Written by Bishop Donald J. Hying   
Thursday, Jan. 09, 2020 -- 12:00 AM

This Sunday, we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, the closing of the Christmas season and an opportune moment to thank God for the remarkable grace of our own Baptism.

Jesus receives the Baptism of repentance from John, not because He needs it, but to sanctify the waters of Baptism and to identify with us in our sinful, fallen state, without ever having sinned Himself.

This compassionate identification with our weakness and death reaches its ultimate saving conclusion in the mystery of the crucifixion and resurrection.

Bishop Donald J. Hying's column
Adopted into the mystery of Trinity by Baptism

In Baptism, we become beloved children of God, adopted into the mystery of the Trinity! This divine filiation is a profound mystery. Who Jesus is by nature, namely the Beloved Son, He graciously shares with us through the spiritual adoption of Baptism.

Christ holds nothing back from us! We are drawn into the depths of relationship with the Father through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our identity as beloved children of God is now the core meaning and reality of our human existence.

The next time a new acquaintance asks who you are, reply, "I am a beloved child of God, purchased with the precious Blood of Christ!" We can never ponder enough the remarkable grace given to us on the day that we were baptized in the name of the Most Blessed Trinity!

Baptism washes away original sin, the mark of humanity's fall from grace, that each one of us is born with. If not for Christ's offer of salvation, made manifest in the baptismal waters, we would be lost in sin and death.

Left to my own devices and natural inclinations, I would eventually choose complacent selfishness and indulgent pleasure over sacrificial service and fiery compassion. Concupiscence is our fallen tendency towards sin, going all the way back to Adam and Eve.

We are born into a world that has been warped and misshaped by generations of sin; the grace of Baptism saves us from all of that if we cultivate the graces given through lives of holiness, sacrament, prayer, and love.

Becoming members of the Church

Through Baptism, we become members of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ. In traditional churches, the baptismal font was always in the entrance to the nave, the main body of the building. A person being initiated into the Church entered from the world, came through the narthex, was baptized in the font, and then carried into the church, symbolizing the primordial nature of Baptism as the sacred entryway into the life of Christian grace.

Through this first sacrament, we are plunged into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, putting on the baptismal gown, anointed with chrism, bearing the light of the Lord which is lit from the Easter candle. All of these ritual actions point to the startling truth that, in Baptism, we are born again, taking on a new identity in the Lord, initiated into the "ecclesia," the primal word for "Church" which literally means "called or set apart."

How telling that much of the ritual at a Catholic funeral, including the sprinkling of the casket with holy water, the placing of the pall, and the lit Paschal candle all point to Baptism. Our identification with the Easter mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection begins in the power of Baptism and reaches its conclusion in the mystery of death.

Initiated into the priesthood of Jesus Christ

In Baptism, we are anointed with sacred chrism which initiates us into the priesthood of Jesus Christ. We are called to be saints, to become holy, to sanctify the world, to be a bridge between God and every person who crosses our path.

The ordained priesthood, through the proclamation of the Gospel, the celebration of the sacraments, and the shepherding of God's people, serves the baptismal priesthood of the laity.

In marriage and family life, in the world of work, in the network of friends and community, in the fields of culture, politics, education, and economy, every baptized Christian is called to live out the missionary call of discipleship, witnessing to the primacy of Christ -- His Kingdom, love, grace, teaching, mercy, life, death, and resurrection.

When we live out the full meaning of our baptismal identity, we become a joyful and transforming leaven in the world, slowly, quietly, yet urgently serving as a transforming agent, a messenger of the great King!

Know date of your Baptism

If you do not know the date of your Baptism, do some research and find out. If you don't have a copy of your baptismal certificate, contact the parish where you were baptized; they will be happy to send you one. This date marking your entry into Christ and His Church is a day to be celebrated well and joyously!

This Sunday, as we close out another Christmas season and mark the beginnings of Jesus' public ministry, we once again hear the voice of the Father, calling from heaven, "This is my Beloved Son! Listen to Him!"

When we truly listen to Christ in prayer, will we not also hear the voice of the Father saying to us, "Here is my beloved son, my beloved daughter!" This vast mystery of God's love and salvation opens up before our eyes as an infinite horizon of mercy, and it all begins in the power of Baptism. How much the Lord loves us!