This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today in the liturgy of the Church we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Today the voice of God proclaims: 'This is my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on him'. Today's gospel and today's solemnity invites us to meditate about the mystery of Baptism. The Catechism of Catholic Church teaches us: "Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments".
Usually Holy Baptism is the first sacrament which we receive at the beginning of our life. In our name our parents ask the Church for baptism. At this point we need ask ourselves, why does the Church accept the practice of baptizing children? They don't have a choice, children don't understand what is happening. Is it really good practice to baptize children? The Catechism of Catholic Church reminds us "Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them". Christian parents have responsibility for the education of their children and especially religious education. At beginning of the rite of Baptism for Children there is a dialogue between the priest and the parents. The priest asks: What do you ask of God's Church for your child? The answer of the parents is: Baptism. After the priest explains the rite of baptism:
You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training your child in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him or her up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?
We need to pay special attention to the statement: "responsibility of training your child in the practice of the faith". The first teachers of the faith are the parents. They have a responsibility to transfer the faith. That is possible only if the parents believe in God and follow the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It is impossible to do this if I don't have faith. The parents must build a personal relationship with God and only then can this treasure be offered to their child. Sometimes in our society is very difficult be good parents. especially if parents want follow the teaching of God. Baptism is only the beginning of our relationship with God. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."
During the celebration of the sacrament of Baptism we have a few "Explanatory Rites". These explanatory Rites help us to understand what we truly celebrate in Baptism. The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament.
During the celebration the visible rites show us the graces invisible which we can fill only in our hearts. During Baptism, what visible rites can we see?
How is the Sacrament of Baptism Celebrated? In the Church this triple infusion is accompanied by the minister's words: "N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." At the invocation of each person of the Most Holy Trinity, the priest immerses the candidate in the water and raises him up again.
After Baptism comes Anointing. The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one "anointed" by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king.
Explanatory rites there is also "Clothing with White Garment" Why this in the celebration? Because the person who receives the sacrament has become a new creation, and has clothed himself or herself in Christ. We see in this white garment the outward sign of his or her Christian dignity.
Another explanatory rites is: the Lighted Candle, because the child has been enlightened by Christ. And every baptized person is called to walk always as a child of the light.
Dear brother and sisters today we remember the Baptism of the Lord and we want remember our baptism. In our life we need this moment when we chose Christ as Lord. No longer can we depend on our parents acting on or behalf but now to be a Christian must be my personal choice. This Sunday is a perfect day for this decision, but we need to remember what Pope Benedict told us:
"Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction".
Today we are called to an encounter with Jesus, about who God spoke: This is my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on him. In sacrament the Baptism we too can be the beloved child of God.