Graces of Baptism

  • January 10, 2021 (readings)
  • The Baptism of the Lord
  • Janet Schuster
  • Mark 1:7-11

    This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

    Opening Prayer: Lord, come into my being during this time together. Reside in my heart and enlighten my mind as only you can.

    Encountering Christ:

    1. Baptism: In humility, John the Baptist knew his place before the Lord. He would baptize with water and preach repentance but made it clear that one mightier than he would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Knowing full well his lowliness, how surprised must John have been when the “Lamb of God” came to the Jordan River one day to be baptized! “John tried to prevent him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?’” (Matthew 3:14). His words were reminiscent of his mother, who said to Mary thirty years prior, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43). The virtue of humility makes us keenly aware that we are never worthy of Christ’s visitation–in prayer, through the Eucharist, in others–but we are always ever-grateful.

    2. Signs and Wonders: When Jesus is baptized in the Jordan by John, the Spirit appeared like a dove, and the Father made clear that Jesus was his Son with whom he was well pleased. Did the clouds part to make way for the Holy Spirit? Was the voice of the Father audible or more like the sound of rumbling thunder? Did the crowd gasp aloud or murmur to themselves? What a scene this must have been! God was drawing our attention to baptism. Every baptism is miraculous. “Everything that happened to Christ lets us know that, after the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon us from high heaven and that, adopted by the Father's voice, we become sons of God” (CCC 537).

    3. The Trinity Revealed: As Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and the Father spoke of his praises. The Trinity was present in three persons. “Just as our first creation was the work of the Trinity, so our second creation is the work of the Trinity.” (Chromatius, Sermon 18A). At every baptism, the person receiving the sacrament is baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity is also present, welcoming that soul into divine adoption.

    Conversing with Christ: Lord, I thank you for the sacrament of baptism and all the sacraments of the church. May I worship the Father and invoke the Spirit as I converse with you, Christ, acknowledging your Trinitarian nature—a mystery too profound for me to fathom.

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will carry out the duties and responsibilities of my vocation in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

    For Further Reflection: From the Catechism: 

    1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte "a new creature," an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature," member of Christ and coheir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit.

    1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:

    - enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues; 

    - giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit; 

    - allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.

    Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has its roots in baptism.


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