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The Lord’s Baptism Is Our Baptism Print
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Saturday, 12 January 2008 12:10

In today’s feast we celebrate the baptism of Jesus by John in the waters of the Jordan. Though he himself had no stain to be washed away, he wished to submit himself to this rite as he submitted himself to the other requirements of the Law. As a human being he submitted himself to the laws that ruled and governed the lives of the people of Israel who had been elected by God to prepare the way for the Redeemer. John the Baptist carried out energetically his mission to prophesy and arouse a great movement towards repentance as an immediate preparation for the coming of the Messianic Kingdom.

By his baptism Jesus left for us the Sacrament of Christian Baptism, directly instituted by Christ with what would be a further progressive determination of its elements, and be imposed as a universal law from the day of his Ascension. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me; the Lord was to say on that day. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matt28:13).

Jesus wished to be baptized. The institution of Christian Baptism. It is also Thanksgiving.

In Baptism we receive faith and grace. The day we were baptised was the most important day of our lives. Just as the parched land does not yield its fruits if it does not get water, so also we who were like dried sticks can produce fruits of life only if we receive freely the gentle and abundant rainfall of grace from on high (St. Irenaues, Treatise against Heretics, 3, 17). Before we received baptism we were outside the locked gates of Paradise, unable to bring forth the slightest supernatural fruit.

Today our prayer enables us to thank God for this totally undeserved gift, and to rejoice in the countless good things He has so lavishly bestowed on us. In Abbott Marmion, Christ, the Life of the Soul: Thanksgiving is the very first emotion that should be born in us in response to our baptism: the second is joy. Never should we think of our baptism without deep feelings of interior gladness.

We must rejoice in the cleansing of our souls from the stain of original sin, and of any other sin we may have committed before our baptism. All men are members of the same human family which was originally damaged by the sin of our first parents. This original sin is transmitted as an inextricable part of our fallen human nature, by generation, not by imitation, and is to be found individually in each one of us (Paul VI, Credo of the People of God). But Jesus gave us Baptism as a specific means of purifying our human nature and freeing it from the terrible affliction of this sin we were born with. The baptismal water operates in a real way, signifying what the use of natural water signifies - the cleansing and purification from every blemish or stain (cf 1 Cor 6:11 and John3:3-6). # # #

With permission from Scepter UK. Short excerpt from IN CONVERSATION WITH GOD by Francis Fernandez. Available at SinagTala or Totus Bookstore 723-4326 or at www.totusbookstore.com.

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