Did everyone have a wonderful Christmas season? For us Roman Catholics, this past Sunday was the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, bringing the Christmas Season to a close. Now until Lent we’re in Ordinary Time… Ain’t nothing ordinary about it…
The Baptism of Our Lord reminds us of our Mission Statement. And Ordinary Time is for living it out with greater zeal and fidelity.
Jesus goes into the waters of the Jordan River and is baptized by St. John the Baptist out of sheer obedience to the will of God the Father. The heavens suddenly are opened, a dove is seen descending upon Jesus and a voice is heard:
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
The dove? God the Holy Spirit. The voice? God the Father. All three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity are manifested. Jesus–God the Son is revealed. And the anointing of Jesus as King and Messiah (in Greek–Christ) takes place. There’s more. So many things are happening in this scene! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world has stepped in the water and so it’s transformed–sanctified.
The Baptism of Our Lord is a mystery of great significance. On Sunday, the priest announced “change…not the change Obama speaks of. Something much greater. If anyone here isn’t here to be changed, it’s not too late to leave” (paraphrased). It’s all about change–our changing, being transformed into a new creation. When you or i were baptized: we came in contact with that water made holy by Christ, the Holy Spirit is present and the Father–our Father says of us, “Behold–this is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”
For you are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.
– Gal. 3:26-27 (DRV)
In baptism we became children of God in Jesus Christ the Son of God. If we were baptized into Christ that makes us Christians. Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is “the messianic people.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #782).
The Mission Statement then is Christ.
Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord. Following Christ and united with him, Christians can strive to be “imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love” by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the “mind . . . which is yours in Christ Jesus,” and by following his example.
How do live out our Mission Statement? What does it mean to follow his example? The Catechism lists the three offices that Jesus was established in and anointed for:
783 Jesus Christ is the one whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them.
- Priest (784) On entering the People of God through faith and Baptism, one receives a share in this people’s unique, priestly vocation: “Christ the Lord, high priest taken from among men, has made this new people ‘a kingdom of priests to God, his Father.’ The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood.”
- Prophet (785) “The holy People of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office,” above all in the supernatural sense of faith that belongs to the whole People, lay and clergy, when it “unfailingly adheres to this faith . . . once for all delivered to the saints,” and when it deepens its understanding and becomes Christ’s witness in the midst of this world.
- King (786) Finally, the People of God shares in the royal office of Christ. He exercises his kingship by drawing all men to himself through his death and Resurrection. Christ, King and Lord of the universe, made himself the servant of all, for he came “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” For the Christian, “to reign is to serve him,” particularly when serving “the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder.” The People of God fulfills its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation to serve with Christ.
That says it all. You know what time it is.