Sunday, 13 January 2019

Baptism & Reception into Full Communion, Baptism of the Lord

Today is wonderful day for the parish, with two adults becoming Catholic: Ian Wheeler is being baptised and Marjorie Isaacs is being Confirmed and received into Full Communion.
They’ve both been preparing for a year, because it’s a major step.
It a useful moment for each of US to think about what this all means, and today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a good moment.

Why was the Lord Jesus baptised?
He didn’t have any sins, so He didn’t need to have His sins washed away.
And He didn’t need any of the other things that baptism gives.
So WHY was He baptised?
For us.
So that WE might have a way of being UNITED to Him.
When we are baptised, we join to HIM who was baptised.Our baptism is about being united to Him.

St Paul puts it this way:
The “old man”, Adam, must die in us, in order that the “new man”, Christ, might live in us (Rom 6:4-5; 1 Cor 15:22).
So when we are baptised we descend into the tomb with Christ, that we might rise from the tomb with Him.
St John thus calls it a new birth, saying we must be “born again”(Jn 3:5), by baptism.

The Lord Jesus wanted us to be united to Him, and so He established the sacrament, the ritual, of baptism, so that by adoption, we might share in what He possesses by nature.
When the Lord Jesus came out of the water a voice spoke from heaven and said, “You are by Son, the Beloved”.
By baptism, we also become adopted children of our heavenly Father.
When the Lord Jesus came up out of the water the Holy Spirit visibly descended on Him in the form of a dove.
By baptism, we receive gift of that same Spirit.
Water washed the body of the Lord Jesus.
By our baptism, the Original Sin we inherit from Adam is washed away,
and, if we are adults, our personal sins are washed away too.

Baptism, however, is not the END of our union with Christ, rather it is the beginning.
The FULNESS of the Holy Spirit is given in another sacrament, Confirmation.
The RENEWAL of baptismal forgiveness of sins is restored each time we go to the sacrament of Confession.
Marjorie was baptised as an Anglican, years ago.
Today, Marjorie comes to the fullness of what she received in her baptism, a twofold fullness:
On one hand, the fulness of the Holy Spirit, in Confirmation.
On the other hand, the fulness of Communion with the universal Church, the Catholic Church.
What she already had as an Anglican was real, but it lacked the FULNESS she will receive today.
Baptism makes us adopted children of our heavenly Father.
Baptism thus makes us part of the “family” of God, which is His Church.
Today, by being received into that Full Communion she gets the fulness of her baptism.
For Ian, He receives all of this today.
For him, the process is different, in that he now must rise to cooperate with all those graces.

What of all of us?
Today is a moment to remember the grace of our own baptism and confirmation, to recall the greatness of being part of the universal Church, God’s family.
And today is a moment, too, to recommit ourselves to our own baptism, to daily die and rise with Christ.

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