"Whoever is begotten by God conquers the world" (1 John 5:6).
Our small midtown parish was blessed with a double baptism this past Sunday, welcoming two young brothers into the network of relationships that is the heart of the sacrament. United with Christ, we are united with each other and destined for eternal life in the Trinity.
Our experience made up for this year's calendar moving the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord to Monday. The importance and scriptural density of this feast is profound and worth pondering.
The scene at the Jordan River reprises the key moments in salvation history. At Creation, the spirit hovers over the waters, imparting the image and likeness of God on the world. The ark carries the seeds of the renewal of life on earth through the great flood and a dove signals that restoration. Exodus through the Red Sea liberates God's people from slavery. When God speaks through the prophets, the sky opens.
All of these moments are fulfilled in Jesus. He is the new Adam, the Beloved Son, the Ark of our salvation, the new Moses, the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. What Jesus will accomplish by his life, death and resurrection will be poured out on all of us. United with him, we are now God's beloved children.
Baptism is our point of entry into the mystery of Christ. Everything else follows upon this incorporation into the body of the risen Jesus. Our life trajectory and identity are defined by our dying with him in order to rise with him. Baptismal maturity is nourished by participating in the Eucharist, the same dynamic repeated within the community that empowers us for our mission to be Christ in the world.
The purpose of the sacraments and the liturgy is to expose us to this mystery of who we are. Our participation in the sacraments and the liturgy lets us experience this new identity gradually, in an unfolding revelation, deeper and deeper, until we make it our innermost life. Sharing the mystery of Christ is the reason we exist, to know God and to share in the divine life. Baptism is the first step in our journey to God.