2021-01-10Baptism of the LordRev. Msgr. Michael J. Motta, D.Min.

The Church is still decorated for Christmas. Some years ago the Church extended the Christmas season to the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Why was Jesus baptized? It was not because he had original sin because he was not affected by sin at all. The Baptism of the Lord signifies the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus.

When we are baptized we become a part of God's family. The early Church only baptized on one Sunday during the entire year and that was Easter Sunday. The early Church only baptized adults. There was a good reason for that. It was a Church under persecution. You could lose your life for professing Christianity, or your property or your freedom.

Jesus was Jewish and so were his apostles. They reached out to fellow Jews to become followers of Jesus Christ.

Saul of Tarsus who was a faithful Jew had a profound experience of the Risen Jesus. Saul also known as Paul, his Roman name, had been persecuting Christians but then he was struck down and blinded by the Risen Jesus who asked Paul, `Why are you persecuting me?` In other words, why are you persecuting Christians. From that experience Paul becomes a faithful apostle and missionary. St. Paul influences the Christian Church to accept Gentiles, or non-Jews, as followers of Jesus Christ. So the Church grows and many Gentiles are baptized.

Paul also teaches us that we are the Body of Christ.

The Church always worried about spies who would turn them into the government and so they instituted the idea of sponsor or godparents. A sponsor would testify that a person was sincerely interested in becoming a Christian. You put your life on the line on behalf of the person interested in becoming a Christian.

Once that person was accepted for instruction in the Christian faith, they studied the faith for a long time, sometimes a lifetime, the minimum time for instruction was 3 years. The final exam was Lent. The person fasted and prayed and wore sack-cloth and ashes for 40 days. On Easter Sunday, you were dunked in a river and baptized and then given new clothes as a sign of the Resurrection. This ceremony resembles the death of Jesus, the dunking in the river is similar to being put into a tomb and then the resurrection of Jesus is symbolized by wearing new clothes.

In the early 300`s the Roman Emperor Constantine believed that he saw a cross in the sky that said `in this sign you will conquer.` He did win that battle and then favored Christianity which from this point on was no longer against the law.

Many people became Christian and began to have their babies baptized.

Today, because we are baptizing babies, we hope and pray for a commitment of the parents to raise their children in the faith.

We are very fortunate to have the freedom to practice our religion freely. People in many parts of the world do not have that freedom.

Our faith is our greatest gift and should be shared with others because our faith leads us to eternal life.

I hope and pray that you or I never take our faith for granted.

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