By Sr. Karen, O.P.
I love babies, but they totally distract me with their cuteness. Fr. Rich actually told me not to sit near babies at Mass because I can’t pay attention to what’s going on! So needless to say, I love having the Sacrament of Baptism at Sunday liturgies. Somehow those babies call me to realize the gift and grace of my own baptism — and the strength of being part of this faith community. They remind me that each of us, like Jesus, is God’s beloved. Plunged into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we are claimed for Christ, anointed with the power of his Spirit, and sent to respond in Jesus’ name. Thus unfolds an ever-deepening relationship of grace with Christ and with one another.
After Jesus’ baptism, his words and actions pointed to his mission: to gather people into one family where all are welcomed, loved, and cared for. It was because of fidelity to this mission that Jesus ran into opposition from Israel’s leadership. It ultimately brought him to trial and death. But afterward his disciples experienced him alive. They felt his power and presence in new ways that gave them insight and courage to carry on his Spirit-filled mission. This same grace and calling is also our own.
Today’s feast proclaims that in Baptism we have put on Christ. God calls us beloved. With us God is well pleased. We are clothed in the light of grace. It surrounds us, protects us, and prompts us to live out the dying and rising of Jesus in the joys and challenges we meet. We learn from Jesus that life is about self-giving. Happiness comes from becoming more God-centered, less self-centered, and more other-centered. We learn that our very struggles and gifts can be used by the Holy Spirit. We acknowledge that holiness is a gift of Jesus, not something we ourselves achieve. We simply respond through works of love and justice and mercy.
Our baptismal call is to realize that our very lives — single, married, consecrated religious, priest — are holy. They are the privileged context for claiming God’s grace. Because it’s so easy to take that for granted, it would be great to find a few moments of silence this week to reflect on that. How marvelous to be called and sent to extend the mission of Jesus through our own unfolding journey of faith.