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The Baptism of the Lord

January 9, 2020

The Baptism of the Lord

January 12, 2020


Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

Psalm 29

Acts of the Apostles 10:34-38

Matthew 3:13-17

One of the first gifts I received after I was ordained was the book “The Right of Baptism for Children.”  It is the book that priests and deacons use while performing the sacrament of baptism.  Inside the back cover of my book I inscribed the name and date of the first person I baptized.  It was a baby boy named Santino, which means little saint.  It was an important day for Santino and an important day for me as well.

Of course, the biggest day for the sacrament of baptism is the one we hear in today’s Gospel; today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord.  I suspect that John did not write down Jesus’ name in the back of any book as I did.  But, what we do have is Matthew’s Gospel account, and as we hear it once again we are reminded – this is where it all began.  Baptism is the first Sacrament of Initiation.  It was an important day for Jesus, John the Baptist and for all of us. 

Baptism was the beginning of Christ’s public ministry.  For us, our own baptism marks the beginning of our own lives as Catholic Christians.  Most of us were baptized when we were infants, so we don’t remember it.  And chances are, if you have been part of a baptism, as a parent or godparent or just a family member looking on, there’s was a lot going on that you may have not noticed.

Today, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a good opportunity for us to notice what we may have been missing.  To look beyond the water and the oil, the prayers, the crying babies and of course the christening gown that was worn by your great-great grandmother’s second cousin – twice removed!  The feast is a chance to reflect on what this sacrament means and how it is celebrated.  I believe it comes down to what I would like to call “The Three C’s of Baptism.”  Creation, Commitment and Community:

CreationThe baptism ritual does not begin with a prayer.  It begins with the question, “What name do you give your child?”  It sounds obvious but those seven words are deceptively simple.  Everything that follows flows from them.  It is fundamentally about who we are and who we will become.  It is when we are defined as Catholic Christians – we are transformed –we become a New Creation.  Having a name, an identity, is critical.  In the Book of Genesis, you will recall that one of the first things Adam did was name everything around him.  In naming their child, parents continue what began in Genesis.  In effect they declare that they are continuing God’s creative work in the world.  So baptism is about creation in all its beauty, joy and wonder. 

CommitmentIt is the commitment of parents and godparents to the Catholic faith and to living that faith with fidelity, enthusiasm and joy.  This means living it in such a way that a child or even an adult who has been recently baptized will learn how to pray, understand what they value, how they love others and their need to say, “I wish to live my life like that!”

CommunityEarly in the rite, the priest or deacon will say, “My children, the Christian community welcomes you with great joy!”  the Church celebrates the sacrament of baptism as a community because, as a community, we pray together, rejoice together, grieve together, and even grow old together.  The Christian life is not one of isolation and we do not celebrate sacraments that way.

“Creation, Commitment and Community!”  But please think about a fourth “C.”  It is the one that underlines all of the others; it is “Charity.”  Charity is the great bond of love that uplifts us inspires us, and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, inflames our hearts.

These are some of the ingredients of what it means to be a Catholic Christian.  May God, our Father in heaven, say to all of us what He said at His Son’s baptism, “These are my beloved son’s and daughters, with whom I am well pleased.” 

Question of the Day: Jesus set an example for us at His baptism.  Will you set an example of service and ministry to others as well?

Prayer:   in the waters of baptism we were made God’s children and called to serve one another as we have been served by Christ.  Therefore let us pray for one another and for all people who will not or cannot pray for themselves


Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry

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