Celebrate our Personal Baptismal Day
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (BaptismB), Jan. 11, 2009
By Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS
In the original language of the Bible, the word “baptism” means to “submerge”, to “dunk”. In the early church, the rite of baptism was often conferred through the total immersion of the new convert.
“Baptism is entrance into the life of Jesus Christ and His church. This is not just a hobby, and the life of following Jesus entails our total commitment to following Him, and living according to His will”.
I remember a guided retreat I had. My retreat director instructed me to spend the first two days
thinking about myself and whatever I can think of, I was supposed to say “I am not!”
The first day I came up with a litany of “I am not”. I am not my priesthood! I am not my Name! I am not my age! I am not my being a man!
And this went on the whole day, at the end of which, my director asked me to continue during the night and the following day, so I did.
I am not my assignment! I am not my being a la Salette! I am not my ministry! At the end of the day, I was exhausted and there was nothing more I could think of about myself. I was just left with the nagging emptiness of being nobody, haunted by the question, “who am I?”
Then, in the middle of that second night, I practically jumped out of bed, as it dawned on me, picking up a pen to write down in big bold letters on a piece of paper I could grab: “I AM THE SON OF GOD, HIS BELOVED”.
Mother Theresa once said, “the problem is not that people do not love God, but rather, many people do not realize that God truly loves them”. Could it be because oftentimes we think of ourselves as being unlovable? But that is precisely the point: God loves us because we are unlovable, for He longs to make us loveable. This is the beginning of true reconciliation.
God entrusts himself to us not because we are trustworthy. God loves us not because we are loveable. God is merciful to us not because we are deserving of mercy.
There was a young man in Napoleon’s army who committed a deed so terrible that it was worthy of death. The day before he was scheduled for the firing squad, the young man’s mother went to Napoleon and pleaded for mercy for his son. Napoleon replied, “Woman, your son does not deserve mercy”. “I know”, she answered, “if he deserved it then it would not be mercy”.
God loves you because there is only one of you!
Once, Jesus spoke of John saying, “But I tell you, although no one may be found greater than John, The least in the kingdom is greater than he” (Lk 7: 28) Actually, if you look at someone long enough without comparing, without judging, he is the greatest man that ever lived. There is only one of Him.
Luke’s is sometimes described as the gospel of the lost. He, alone narrates in succession the Lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (Luke 15). “Who among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, will not leave the ninety nine in the desert and seek out the lost one till he finds it” (Lk15:4)
“What woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one, will not light a lamp and sweep the house in a thorough search till she finds it” (Lk15:8) Finding the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son ends in much rejoicing and celebration.
“Rejoice with me for I have found my lost sheep”. “Rejoice with me for I have lost my lost coin”.
“This brother of yours was dead , and has come back to life.” He was lost and is found. And for that we have to celebrate and rejoice.
God is always searching for you…… He is always after you…..always waiting for you because
You are His happiness!
To become a reconciled son and daughter of God is at the heart of our calling. There are times that I say that our calling is to become loveable: “kindly, make yourself loveable please” Because by being loveable, you are actually loving and by loving you become more loveable.
By being truly reconciled, we become more reconciling. As we become more reconciling, the more we become reconciled. Our reward is not what we get or receive but we become. We become reconciled as true sons and daughters of God And thus become reconciling as true brothers and sisters.
St Paul describes the ministry of reconciliation as an appeal: “so we present ourselves as ambassadors in the name of Christ, as if god Himself makes an appeal to you through us: Be reconciled to god” (2nd cor. 5:20)
By being lovable and loving, we make of our lives appealing on behalf of God.
I grew up with my grandmother as a child and at that time I found it strange that she would prepare to celebrate not my birthday (my mother would), but the day I was baptized; and now I realized why.
She would light a candle after preparing a special dinner and would refresh my memory of the day I was baptized including the background of my godfather/godmothers.
I wonder why we do not celebrate our baptismal day. In fact, many of us remember a lot of important days in our life except the very day we became sons and daughters of God.
Jesus remembered and cherished the day he was baptized. In fact His whole life was immersed in being a son of God, and in doing the will of His Father. He was described to be “crazy”, “out of his mind”, because he was constantly passionate, persistent and adamant
in being a true Son and in doing the will of God.
That’s our baptismal call: “continue being the image of the Son of God, and doing the will of God”.
And God will tell us: “You are my beloved people to whom I am well pleased!”