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What happens in baptism is the beginning of a process that embraces the whole of our life: It makes us fit for eternity.”

Pope Benedict XVI

do you reject satan?

This Sunday following the Epiphany the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord.  It is here we recall in a special way Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan by John the Baptist.  In it we are also reminded of a great mystery revealed.  God the Father reveals Jesus as his “beloved Son” and the Holy Spirit comes down from heaven in the form of a dove.  We are given our first glimpse of the Trinity and are invited to enter deeper into this mystery – this trinitarian family of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We become partakers of this great mystery at our own baptism; for it is here, this first of the rites of Christian initiation, that we are grafted on to the Body of Christ.  It is here where an indelible mark is created and God calls us as his own.  Through virtue of our baptism we are connected to this mystical body as beloved sons and daughters of the Father.  Here, we reject Satan and all his empty promises.  We are plunged into the waters Jesus cleansed that we could be made clean.  In this Ocean of Mercy we are plunged with Christ and rise with him, receiving the mark as beloved children of the Father, as followers of the Son, in unity with the Holy Spirit – we are marked as Christians.

Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him. The heavens, like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are rent open. The Spirit comes to him as to an equal, bearing witness to his Godhead. A voice bears witness to him from heaven, his place of origin. The Spirit descends in bodily form like the dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood and so gives honour to the body that is one with God.”

From a sermon of Saint Gregory Nazianzen (329-390 A.D.)

The waters of baptism are the beginning of a process, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, that make us fit for eternal life.  This process doesn’t end with one proclamation of faith:  No.  Life is a journey; and every journey has a beginning and an end.  We are, therefore, invited to call to mind our baptismal promises and then live them out each day.  We must remember St Peter’s exhortation to each of us to always be on guard; to always resist temptation; that we must be sober and vigilant to the evil around us, to the evil we invite into our hearts, to the evil that we perpetrate.

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.”

1 Peter 5:8-9

In baptism we are given what we need to resist, to be sober and vigilant, to be steadfast in faith.  In baptism God gives us what he has prepared for us to live out our Christian vocation.  Living out our faith begins with knowing we are called to resist our carnal desires; we are called to set aside the inordinate preoccupations of the ego.  As disciples of Christ, as sons and daughters of the Church, we are reminded of what is good, we are invited to participate in what the Christian life requires of us: To do justice, to love goodness, to forgive, and to love brother and sister as we love ourselves; and we are called to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

“Someone might ask, ‘Why would a holy man desire baptism?’ Listen to the answer: Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by water, but to make the water holy, and by his cleansing to purify the waters which he touched. For the consecration of Christ involves a more significant consecration of the water.

For when the Savior is washed all water for our baptism is made clean, purified at its sources for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of future ages. Christ is the first to be baptized, then, so that Christians will follow after him with confidence.”

From a sermon by Saint Maximus of Turin, bishop (ca. 380-465 A.D.)

Can we say, as Jesus does, that we humble ourselves in everything we choose to do; that we choose to subordinate our own will to the will of the Father?  Can we say we crucify ourselves of our own wills and, as sons and daughters of the Church that Jesus founded, submit ourselves humbly to all that the Church teaches and professes?  Can we say we live out our baptismal promises each day?

Let us be strong where we are weak.  Let us humble ourselves where we think we are strong.  We do well to remember often how it is Jesus, himself, who cleansed the waters of baptism that we would receive the grace that flows from these waters.  We are called to be his tributaries flowing to the ends of the earth with the good news that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are meant to flood the earth with this good news.  That is the call of our Christian vocation as priest, prophet, and king, we receive at baptism.

As we embark on a new year, let us resolve to live out our baptismal promises as Catholics.  For faithful Catholics, deepen your faith.  For Catholics who’ve stepped away, let not another day pass, Come Home.  Let this be the year that all Catholics – faithful and fallen away – resolve to flood the earth with the Good News.

Peace be with you!

Disciple of Christ | Son of the Church

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Antoine Coypel- The Baptism of Christ ca 1690

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.”

Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel, by Reni Guido, 1635, 17th Century, originally oil on silk. St. Michael stepping on Devil’s head while holding his sword.

Saint Michael, O prince of the heavenly host, pray for us.

Be not afraid!  And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.  Holy Family, pray for us.  Amen.

The Holy Family, Murillo
The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities (c. 1675-82) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682)

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