The Baptism of Christ

The Baptism of Christ
Ottavio Vannini, c. 1640
The Baptism of Christ Ottavio Vannini, c. 1640

From a Sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, bishop
The baptism of Christ
Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.
John is baptizing when Jesus draws near. Perhaps he comes to sanctify his baptizer; certainly he comes to bury sinful humanity in the waters. He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; he who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water.
The Baptist protests; Jesus insists. Then John says: I ought to be baptized by you. He is the lamp in the presence of the sun, the voice in the presence of the Word, the friend in the presence of the Bridegroom, the greatest of all born of woman in the presence of the firstborn of all creation, the one who leapt in his mother’s womb in the presence of him who was adored in the womb, the forerunner and future forerunner in the presence of him who has already come and is to come again. I ought to be baptized by you: we should also add, “and for you,” for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Peter, not only by the washing of his feet.
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 honor to the body that is one with God.
Today let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received – though not in its fullness – a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

Via divine office.org

IN BAPTISM

The flood waters of heaven
Pour over me.
Your Death holds me fast,
Drawing body and soul,
Down in Your Dying.

Flood gates open,
And yet, the sea parts.
By Your Spirit I pass over.
The soul that gives life to my body,
Now rises,
Your Spirit, giving Life to my soul.

More than a corpse
Raised from the dead,
I rise a priest, a prophet and a king,
Betrothed and free to be
What You would make of me.

copyright 2015 Joann Nelander

Why do Catholics baptize babies? – jonsorensen.net.

Why do Catholics baptize babies? – jonsorensen.net.

“I have heard some of my non-Catholic Christian friends say that they believe people should only be baptized into the Christian faith at the “age of reason,” when they are old enough to understand what is being done. Obviously, infants have no clue what is going on when they are being baptized, and for this reason, infant baptism makes no sense to them. So if babies don’t get what’s going on, then why do we bother?

In Colossians 2, St. Paul explains that baptism is the “circumcision of Christ.”

“and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” -Col 2:11-12

What do we know from Scripture about circumcision? Let’s look at the deal God made with Abraham in the Old Testament:

“God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations” -Gen 17:9-12

We know from the Bible that baptism is the first step in attaining salvation  (Titus 3:5, 1 Pet 3:21), and that it is the “circumcision of Christ.” Notice in Genesis 17 that circumcision of the 8-day-old babies is a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham, rather than each individual circumcision being only a sign between the circumcised and God.

Denying baptism to an infant is depriving them of this grace. It was Jesus who said “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14)

This outward sign of grace is important for the parents and godparents also. The Catechism explains it this way:

“For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents’ help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized – child or adult on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium).” -CCC #1255

Much like the act of circumcision of male descendants being a sign of the covenant (binding agreement) between God and Abraham, so then infant baptism is also a sign of the covenant between God and the parents who have been entrusted with raising their children in the faith.

via Why do Catholics baptize babies? – jonsorensen.net.

Sing Your Song

 

Sing your baptism
You have been given the song
The Wind of the Spirit will fill your lungs
But the notes are yours to form.

Copyright 2013 Joann Nelander

Forever in Your Love

You are the sun
At the center of the Cross.
I have polluted the waters of my baptism,
And come again
To the foot of Your Cross.

As my prayer rises
From the dust of my fall,
Into the heaven,
Which is with You,
Stretch out Your arms eternally,
To embrace me yet again,

Bring me to Your Heart,
At the crossing
Of heaven and earth
To be transformed
By You,
And in You,
And through You,
Becoming new man,
A holy man.

Silenced for three days on earth,
That heart of Yours,
Beating now eternally,
Lives in me,
Who will live now
Forever in Your love.

© 2013 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved

The Lord’s Command to Baptize

From the treatise On the Trinity by Saint Hilary, bishop

The Father’s gift in Christ

Our Lord commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In baptism, then, we profess faith in the Creator, in the only-begotten Son and in the gift which is the Spirit. There is one Creator of all things, for in God there is one Father from whom all things have their being. And there is one only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist. And there is one Spirit, the gift who is in all. So all follow their due order, according to the proper operation of each: one power, which brings all things into being, one Son, through whom all things come to be, and one gift of perfect hope. Nothing is wanting to this flawless union: in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is infinity of endless being, perfect reflection of the divine image, and mutual enjoyment of the gift.

Our Lord has described the purpose of the Spirit’s presence in us. Let us listen to his words: I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. It is to your advantage that I go away; if I go, I will send you the Advocate. And also: I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth. He will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine.

From among many of our Lord’s sayings, these have been chosen to guide our understanding, for they reveal to us the intention of the giver, the nature of the gift and the condition for its reception. Since our weak minds cannot comprehend the Father or the Son, we have been given the Holy Spirit as our intermediary and advocate, to shed light on that hard doctrine of our faith, the incarnation of God.

We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God. In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the human body would become if they were denied their exercise. Our eyes cannot fulfill their task without light, either natural or artificial; our ears cannot react without sound vibrations, and in the absence of any odor our nostrils are ignorant of their function. Not that these senses would lose their own nature if they were not used; rather, they demand objects of experience in order to function. It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Spirit through faith, the mind has the ability to know God but lacks the light necessary for that knowledge.

This unique gift which is in Christ is offered in its fullness to everyone. It is everywhere available, but it is given to each man in proportion to his readiness to receive it. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man’s desire to be worthy of it. This gift will remain with us until the end of the world, and will be our comfort in the time of waiting. By the favors it bestows, it is the pledge of our hope for the future, the light of our minds, and the splendor that irradiates our understanding.

You are God

You are God
Wholly Other,
Yet Your humanity
Embraces me
By sacrament.

You are the Head,
The Church, Your Mystical Body,
And in it
I wash my robes,
To take on
The Infant Life of Christ,
Wholly dependent,
Yet gifted
With abundant blessing.

You are God,
Wholly Other,
My Father receives me,
Clothed in the living Flesh
Of the beloved Son.

Copyright 2012 Joann Nelander
All rights reserved