Tag Archives: Baptism

The Baptism of the Lord

Bautismo_de_Cristo_por_Navarrete_el_Mudo

Study:  Find out about your baptism.  When was it?  Who performed it?  Who are your Godparents?  Who else was present?

Pray:  Thank the Lord for the gift of faith to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ.

Serve:  How can you live your baptismal call today?  How can your faith inspire or assist another?

The Baptism of the Lord Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

A few days ago I was having lunch when I ran into Fr. Bob Koszarek, a retired priest from our diocese.  When I asked him what brought him out for lunch he said, “I am celebrating the anniversary of my baptism.”  The comment struck me, especially when he followed it up with, “Do you know the day of your baptism?”

The answer is no.  Yet as I type this post I have made a commitment to find out.  We claim (rightly so) that baptism is a crucial sacrament in the Church – the gateway to all other sacraments whereby we are configured to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Most people know if they have been baptized; my sense is that very few know the actual date.

Our faith is a precious gift – worth fighting for, worth dying for.  Perhaps today we pause to recall just how precious it truly is…Jesus Christ poured out his blood on the Cross for us that we might have eternal life.  His baptism was the revelation of the Trinity, where we hear the Father’s voice from heaven as the Spirit descends upon the Son in the form of a dove.  Our baptism allows us to participate fully in God’s presence for the grace and guidance we need.

I invite us today to claim our baptism.  Some simple steps:

  • Thank the Lord for the gift of faith to know Jesus and live as a Christian disciple
  • Embrace your faith through study and prayer
  • Serve others in the name of Jesus Christ (and with his help and strength)
  • Allow your life to bring Good News to the World

Our baptism is not a one time event.  Rather, it is an ongoing expression of Christ working through us.  May the Baptism of the Lord inspire us to live our faith with joy as we engage our lives with his power.

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Bautismo de Cristo, Juan Fernandez Nararrete; circa 1567, The Prado, Madrid, Spain.


The Baptism of the Lord

baptism of the Lord

Study:  Recall a moment when you “died” to something sinful.  Who or what gave you strength?

Pray:  Thank the Lord for the precious gift of your life – and count your blessings!

Serve:  How can you offer some of your time or talent to help another face life and death issues?

Baptism of the Lord Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily

Living on the shores of Lake Superior, I am blessed with an abundance of water in my life.  Here in northern Wisconsin – with our countless clean, freshwater lakes – it is easy to take for granted this precious resource.

Yet consider these two elements of Water:

  • Life giving
  • Death dealing

Water is essential for human life.  Approximately 55-60% of our bodies are composed of water, and this crucial substance is always present wherever people are living and thriving.  What’s more, all life on our planet requires water – it simply is invaluable for existence.

Yet a surplus of water can lead to destruction.  A flood may literally wash away everything in its path with power that cannot be overcome.  Too much water and life drowns, unable to find the proper balance to survive.

This sense of life and death that we discover about water is not only true for life; it is also apparent when we discuss spiritual life.  In baptism we use water to reveal both of these aspects:

  • New life through a configuration to Jesus Christ
  • Death to sin through Christ’s death on a Cross

Through baptism, we are joined to the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Freed from sin by the Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross, we are raised up to newness of life in this world as we prepare to be united to the Lord forever in heaven.

The Baptism of the Lord by John the Baptist reminds us that our experience of God draws on our relationship with the Lord.  His life becomes our life; his death frees us from our death.  Configuring our lives to Jesus through our baptism, we not only become his disciples – we open our hearts to receive his grace.

May we call upon that grace as we face the challenges and blessings of life today.  Trusting in Christ, we engage our lives for service as we follow his example of life and death.


Easter Vigil

Candlelight

Study:  How did you learn your Christian faith?  When did it become something you claimed for your own?

Pray:  This is a good time to count our blessings and draw near to the Lord in gratitude for the gift of life.

Serve:  Perhaps there is someone to whom you might want to say, “I love you.”  Perhaps this is a good time right now…

Easter Vigil Readings

This holy night finds the Church celebrating the profound mystery of Christ’s saving work.  The Easter Vigil recalls the great moments of salvation history, rejoices with those who enter into full communion with the sacramental life of the Church, and is nourished by Eucharist.  Here are the four key components:

  • The Liturgy of Light
  • The Liturgy of the Word
  • The Liturgy of Initiation
  • The Liturgy of the Eucharist

The Liturgy of Light (or Lucernarium) begins the Easter Vigil.  In the darkness the image of light is used to proclaim our hope in Christ.  Several things happen:

  • A new fire is blessed and from its flames the light of the paschal (Easter) candle is lit
  • This candle is processed into church where the faithful light their own candles from it.
  • By this sea of candlelight the great Easter proclamation of Christ our Light – the Exsultet – is offered.

The Liturgy of the Word recounts the epic story of salvation history through several Old Testament Scriptures:

  • Creation – Genesis 1:1-2.2 and Psalm 104 or 33
  • Abraham’s Sacrifice – Genesis 22:1-18 and Psalm 16
  • Passage through the Red Sea – Exodus 14: 15-15:1 and its Canticle (Exodus 15)
  • The New Jerusalem – Isaiah 54:5-14 and Psalm 30
  • Salvation Offered Freely to All – Isaiah 55:1-11 its Canticle (Isaiah 12)
  • The Fountain of Wisdom – Baruch 3:9-15 and Psalm 19
  • A New Heart and a New Spirit – Ezechiel 36:16-28 and Psalm 42-43

We then move from the Old t0 the New Testament:

  • The Gloria is sung
  • A reading from  Romans 6:3-11 – Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more!
  • The Alleluia is sung
  • The Gospel is read – Mt 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-7, Lk 24:1-12 (depending on the year)

The Liturgy of Initiation then follows where those who have been preparing to enter the Church now receive their sacraments.

  • The Litany of the Saints is sung
  • The Baptismal Font is blessed
  • The Sacrament of Baptism is celebrated
  • The Assembly renews their Baptismal Promises
  • The Sacrament of Confirmation is celebrated

Finally, the Liturgy of the Eucharist allows the entire community to draw near to the altar to receive Jesus Christ in the sacrament of his Body and Blood.  The newly baptized receive Holy Communion for the first time in the company of their fellow Catholics.  Like every Mass:

  • Bread and Wine are brought to the altar
  • The Priest prays the Eucharistic Prayer
  • The Lord’s Prayer is said, followed by the Sign of Peace
  • We receive the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion

The great promise of faith, founded upon God’s saving work through time in the history of salvation, is proclaimed on this holy night.  May Christians around the world renew their faith in Jesus Christ – sharing his love and light with one another.

Christ our Light!


3rd Sunday of Lent – Thirsty for Water

Living Water

Study:  When have you been in need for water?  When have you been in need of God’s grace?

Pray:  Is there something in your life that is parched and dry?  Ask the Lord for the Living Water that refreshes our souls.

Serve:  Is there someone you know who is withered and weak?  How can you bring them new strength and assistance?

3rd Sunday of Lent Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

Imagine a tall glass of water.  You are tired and hot, and you hold the cool glass and start to drink.  Immediately, relief spreads through your throat and body, and as you set down the glass you say, “Ahhh!” and smile.

We all have experiences of being thirsty.  Maybe it is after a few slices of pizza or some extra salty snacks; perhaps it’s before an operation or medical checkup, when we are told that we cannot eat or drink anything from midnight on; it could be that we have just had a lot of exercise and are dehydrated.  Yet no matter what the situation is, we know the feeling when we are thirsty for water.

Our bodies need water.  Some studies tell us we  should be drinking a minimum of eight glasses a day.  This dependence on water is found in our survival; a person can live for weeks without food, but only a couple of days without water.

Our critical need for water becomes the source of the images found in the first reading and Gospel today.  Water is the subject for both Moses and Jesus.  Under God’s direction and guidance, Moses strikes the rock and provides water for the people in the desert.  Jesus, through his discussion with the woman at the well, reveals that he is the water that gives eternal life.

These readings remind us that God brings the Living Water to us.  In our need the Lord quenches our thirst as he did for the people in Meribah.  In our need the Lord comes to us as he did for the woman at the well.  For just as we need water to sustain our bodies, so too do we need Jesus Christ to give us life in this world and in the world to come.

Are you spiritually thirsty?  Is there something missing that you long for in your soul?  Is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control?  Just as our bodies respond to water with renewed strength, so also our thirst for “living water” reminds us that God offers us refreshment for our souls.  Lent is a perfect time to recognize our need for the Lord and ask for the grace and strength to face the challenges of today.

It is with water that we welcome new members into the Christian family through baptism.  It is with Holy Water that we sign ourselves with the Cross of Jesus Christ.  During the Easter season we will celebrate the sprinkling rite as we renew our own baptismal promises.  In all these cases, water becomes the medium to remind us of God’s presence.

Every time we pick up a glass of water we have the chance to remember how dependent we are on this simple substance.  May this reminder lead us more deeply into the mystery of God’s love for us and our need to recognize the Lord each day in the world around us.  May we drink deeply from the living water of Jesus Christ.


Baptism of the Lord

Baptismal Font

Study:  When have I experienced a life-changing moment?  How has this helped me to become a better person?

Pray:  Ask God for guidance to face new challenges with courage and strength.

Serve:  How can I help someone in the midst of great change?  How can I support them?

Baptism of the Lord Readings

There are moments in life which transform us forever.  During these times we experience profound and lasting change, and from these moments we find that we are a different person with new insights and awareness.

Sometimes this process of change can take a protracted period of time – weeks or even months may pass while we are in a period of transition and renewal.  Sometimes, however, the transformation takes a single moment; an event or encounter can completely alter the course of our lives.

The baptism of Jesus was just such a life changing experience.  This event is the first step in the adult life of Christ.  Here is a simplified review:

* Jesus (as an adult) is baptized by John
– the Father and Holy Spirit are present!
* Jesus goes immediately to the desert
– he spends 40 days in solitude
* Jesus is tempted by Satan
– he confronts 3 tests of faith
* Jesus begins his ministry
– he preaches, heals, and picks disciples

John’s baptism initiates a series of events that lead to the transformation of the adult Jesus.  Outside of the birth narratives in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, nothing is really known about the Lord until this moment.  Indeed, it is from this point on that Jesus must confront the revelation of his mission on earth.

Some scholars argue that after his baptism Jesus became fully aware of his ministry and ultimate sacrifice on the Cross.  It was at this point that he began to understand the fullness of his Father’s plan.  This is why he went to the wilderness immediately after his baptism – he needed to think things out!  This is why the devil came to him there – in hope that Jesus could be tempted NOT to fulfill his mission.

It was his baptism – a public event – that allowed the Lord (and other people as well) to see the plan of salvation.  In a single moment history changed as Jesus begins his earthly ministry.

Our own transformations can be equally vivid.  May we see in the Lord’s baptism a sign that we too can change, growing closer to God, aware of how our lives can bring life and hope to others.