Baptism of the Lord 2020
With the Baptism of the Lord, we in the Roman Catholic Church officially end the Christmas Season. We move tomorrow into Ordinary Time, until Lent starts with Ash Wednesday on February 26. The Feast of the Baptism is a good opportunity for us to reflect on the level of our commitment as baptized Christians.
Our baptism offers us a share in the ministry of the Church, whatever form that ministry takes: offering consolation to others, serving on a parish committee, visiting the sick and shut-ins, living a good and upright life, and so on.
I occasionally encounter people – typically grandparents – who experience sorrow because of their un-baptized grandchildren. It’s always a challenge to know what to say to them.
I usually find that it helps to encourage the concerned grandparent to continue praying for their children and grandchildren, to live in hope that an event such as a funeral or a major world event will cause them to move toward baptism.
There are many examples of men and women who move toward Christian initiation as young people or adults. It’s usually edifying to hear converts to baptism tell the tale of what was behind their decision to be baptized. Theirs is often a mature faith, precisely because they have consciously chosen it rather than have it happen automatically as infants.
I also suggest to the grandparents that they do their best to live their lives in a manner that will help their grandchildren to experience joy-filled and committed Christians.
Now and then, I have met someone who mutters to herself something like, “Perhaps I should secretly baptize my grandchildren.” I advise them that this is not a smart move. I ask them what will happen if the parents discover what has taken place and I suggest that this is not a wise way of ensuring family peace.
If there is a healthy degree of conversation in the family, it could be helpful to initiate a (peaceful) chat with adults about why they choose not to have their children baptized.
The reasons are plentiful: a personal refusal to believe in God, anger at the Church’s teachings, justified anger at the sexual and financial scandals that are rampant in the Church, or a conscious decision to leave the adherence to any faith up to their children when they have reached the age where they can take responsibility for their life choices.
Baptism is a major life event. It opens us up to a changed way of engaging with the world, a way that is marked by life in Christ. Let’s take time today to consider our own baptism and what it has meant to us at different periods of our life.