January 12, 2020 – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (End of Christmas Season)
Click here for the readings http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011220.cfm
Homily by Fr. Mar Masangcay, CSsR (A Redemptorist Missionary based in South Korea)
I once received an inquiry about parish guidelines on child baptism. Particularly, they are asking for a so-called “Special” Baptism. Without a doubt the child must be very special to the family to request for a so-called “special” baptism. Only to found out later that what they really wanted is an exclusive and private celebration of the Sacrament of Child Baptism since the child is born out of wedlock.
I cannot help but question their motivation for a so-called special baptism. Is it because the child is very special to them despite the circumstances of its birth or is it because they are ashamed of themselves to admit the child as unwanted by the parents and/or the whole family themselves?
I think we need to clarify and direct some of these distorted and questionable but trending views about Baptism in the Church nowadays.
First, there is no such thing as special, exclusive, or private celebration of sacrament of child baptism. The regular and proper celebration of baptism is and should be in public parish church before the congregation of Catholic faithful of where the child will grow in faith, and become a member. Except for emergency baptism where the child is at the risk or danger of death, baptisms should be done in the church with other children to be baptized and before many baptized Catholic faithful, again where the child will grow in faith, and becomes a member parishioner. Church liturgies and sacraments are communal public church prayer-worship, and never should be an exclusive, private family, organization, or office party-program, event or entertainment. In other words, Baptism is the moment when we become members of our parish church as well as of the Universal Church.
Second, as the child as well as we were baptized, we become God’s children in Christ. In baptism, we are consecrated, identified, accepted, dignified and affirmed to be beloved Children of God, like Jesus. When he was baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist, Jesus needs to hear the words and confirmation from the Father, himself saying, “You are my beloved on whom my favor rests”. Such words emphasize his very spiritual identity before God and the vision of God’s kingdom. Here, he is reminded in a deep, deep way of who he is, of his very being before God and people – that among anything else, He is God’s beloved Son. This is the very affirmation and confirmation of his identity before God.
In the same way, when he carried out his mission and public ministry, Jesus wants us also to hear the same message from the Father that “You are my Beloved on whom my favor rests”. Jesus wants us to be aware and hear of the very reality that before God, it is not only Jesus but we, you and I who believe in Jesus are also essentially God’s beloved sons and daughters.
In God’s heart and eyes, we are His beloved children. And by virtue of our baptism, we are consecrated to be God’s children. We are His beloved, not because we did anything, not because we proved ourselves or not because of what we did and have achieved in life. God still and always loves us whatever we do or whatever happens in our life, whether born out of wedlock, adopted, unwanted, or raised by irresponsible parents.
And in our baptism or in the day of our baptism, we first hear God’s words saying to all of us throughout our lives: You are loved, you are beloved. He even love us more, whenever we also proclaim in our life to Him and all that, “Yes, Lord, I love you, too”, and love Him and others in return. Baptism is the moment that we become Beloved Children of God.
And baptism is all about our taking responsibility for God in our lives now. Same way as God commits Himself to us by loving us, in response to God, we commit ourselves to Him in loving God. In other words, same way as Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan marks the beginning of his Mission, our Baptism is the beginning of our Mission in life for God’s sake, since we are His masterpiece for the world.
Being baptized Christian then, means that we become members of God’s church as God’s beloved children doing our part and mission in life for God’s glory, and Kingdom.
Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today officially ends the Christmas season and we continue with the Ordinary Time of the Liturgical Year. As we are now in this transition in liturgical moment, we are reminded of the Baptism of the Lord wherein Jesus publicly proclaims His identity and commitment with God’s affirmations of Him to be the Beloved Son of God. As baptized believers of Christ, we Christians today are also reminded of our identity and dignity as publicly proclaimed and acclaimed to be like Jesus, also sons and daughters – beloved Children of God during our baptism, fulfilling our life-mission of proclaiming God’s glory and building up God’s kingdom in our lives always.
As we continue on with our New Life-Year with the Lord, may we always hear again and again, and be at rest always on God’s words to all of us baptized followers of Christ and members of Christ’s church: “You are my Beloved Child on whom I am well pleased.” Amen.