Recently Pope Francis suggested that we celebrate the date of our Baptism. “Today, at home, go look, ask about the date of your Baptism and that way you can bear in mind that most beautiful day of Baptism. To know the date of our Baptism is to know a blessed day.” (General Audience, Wednesday, January 8, 2014).
I had to research this to find the date. Most people, I suspect, do not know the date of their baptism but it would be good to celebrate the day that the saving waters of Baptism brought us into the community of the Church. When Jesus was baptized at the Jordan River, the heavens opened and the Spirit came down and confirmed His identity: “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” When you were baptized, when the priest or deacon poured water over your head, the Spirit confirmed your identity: “You are my beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased.” “You are my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”
We really do not have a personal appreciation of this truth. We tend to think that there are more important people than us for God to give His attention or that God is too busy to pay attention to me. Both these attitudes limit God. God isn’t just a little bit better than the best person we know. God is the very essence of love.
We also do not appreciate this truth of being beloved of God because we feel unworthy of such love. But what was true at your Baptism remains true today. God does not withdraw His love; we are still precious in His eyes. Even when we sin, we are still beloved of God, even though we may not think we are. By celebrating our Baptism, we remind ourselves of who we are and who we remain: the beloved sons and daughters of God. Then we can heed the words of St. Paul who tells us to be who we are: the holy people of God.
Pope Francis spoke of God’s love in his homily at morning Mass:
“Because our rationalism says, ‘How is it that the Lord, who has so many people to think about, should think of me?’ However, he has really prepared the way for me. With our mothers, our grandmothers, our fathers, our grandparents and great-grandparents … That’s what the Lord does. This is His love: real, eternal, and also ‘customized’. We pray, asking for the grace to understand the love of God, but God’s love can never be fully grasped! We can feel it, we [can even] weep for it, but [in this life] it cannot be understood. This also tells us how great this love is. The Lord has been preparing us for some time, He walks with us, preparing others. He is always with us! Let us ask for the grace heartily to understand this great love.”
So we might celebrate our Baptism day in some special way, committing ourselves to following Christ more closely.
Rev. James M. McNamara