Dear Friends in Christ
In today's feast we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus by John in the waters of the Jordan. Though He Himself had no stain to be washed away, He wished to submit Himself to this rite as He submitted Himself to the other requirements of the Law. As a human being He submitted Himself to the laws that ruled and governed the lives of the people of Israel who had been chosen by God to prepare the way for the Redeemer. By His baptism Jesus left for us the sacrament of Christian baptism, directly instituted by Christ. In baptism we receive faith and grace. The day we were baptised was the most important day of our lives. Before we received baptism we were outside the locked gates of Paradise, unable to produce even the smallest supernatural fruit. Today our prayer is one of thanksgiving to God for this totally undeserved gift and to rejoice in the countless good things He has lavished upon us. As Saint Irenaeus wrote in the second century: Thanksgiving is the very first emotion that should be born in us in response to our baptism; the second is joy. Never should we think of our baptism without deep feelings of thanksgiving. Baptism brings into action something greater than any other good: grace and faith, perhaps, eternal salvation. We have to thank our parents and godparents who brought us, when maybe just a few days or weeks after we were born, to receive this first of the Christian sacraments.
Traditionally on this Sunday we renew the vows and promises of our baptism. It is also the Sunday when those babies baptised in the last year in our Parish receive a special blessing and the Miraculous Medal during the evening Service and Benediction. May God bless them and all of you!
Msgr Kevin Hale