January 13, 2019 - Pastor Message10/15/2019
“Beloved: The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:1114).
The Christmas season officially concludes this weekend with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. While we may have already packed up all of our Christmas decorations and stowed them away for another year, the transitional event in the life of Christ that we celebrate this weekend gives us a chance to pause in our own transition between seasons in order to reflect on what we have just celebrated and what it means for how we live our lives going forward.
At Christmas, we celebrate Christ’s coming into our world and our lives. He didn’t just come to provide heartwarming images for Christmas cards, though; he came to save us from the powers of sin and death that rule this world. The baby lying in the manger would battle those powers through his ministry of teaching and healing and ultimately conquer them through his cross and resurrection. To do that, he had to grow up, leave his quiet childhood home in Nazareth, and tackle the awesome mission that the Father had sent him to accomplish. That is what we celebrate this weekend, the moment that Christ, the child, became Christ, the man and messiah, assuming the responsibility of his saving mission and beginning his public ministry by passing through the waters of John’s baptism, taking his place among sinners, though he himself was sinless, so that he could save us from sin.
Christ’s baptism recalls for us the grace and meaning of our own, because it is through baptism that Christ enters our lives. Every baptism is like Christmas as the life of Christ is born within us and we are reborn to a new life, free from sin and open to eternal life. But just like Christ, that new life remains unrealized and incomplete until we make the transition that Jesus did at the Jordan River and assume the responsibility of the mission that the Father has planned for us. When we receive the life of Christ in our baptism, we receive a share in his mission, and only by prayerfully discerning what that is and striving to carry it out each day, with the help of God’s grace, will we realize our new life’s full potential.
As we transition this weekend from Christmas to Ordinary Time, spend some time reflecting on Christ’s transition through his baptism and ask God to grant us the grace to transition ourselves to ever newer and fuller service of the mission he has given each of us through our baptism.
Fr. Marc Stockton