Several years ago there was a day that I had to stop back at my home parish for something. I can’t remember what that something was anymore, but I had to go to the rectory office and had a few minutes to wait. Around that time Pope Francis had made some reflections about knowing your own date of baptism, and how knowing that date can be a reminder of the blessed day that you were “immersed in the inexhaustible source of life which is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history.” I’ll freely admit that I did not know the date of my baptism, or the priest who baptized me, or anything other than that I was baptized and it took place at St. Barnabas. So while I was standing there waiting for whatever my business was, I said to Mable – Mable was the sweet old parish secretary who is exactly who you picture from the name Mable – but I said, “hey Mable, would you let me see the parish’s baptismal register?” Now normally you wouldn’t get to flip through the register itself, but as the young priest that the sweet old parish secretary watched grow up, there are benefits. I’m not the sentimental type, but there was something special about seeing my own baptismal entry, with my name and my parents and my godparents, the date and the priest, the date of my confirmation, my ordination as a deacon, my ordination as a priest… there was something special about seeing my life defined on that page. And make no mistake, all of our lives are defined by our baptism and our confirmation, because let me ask you a question: who are you? Or better, ask that question to yourself and answer in the most vulnerable and honest way: who are you?
All of Christian theology revolves around the question that is behind that question: who is Jesus Christ? The gospel writers preserved for us his words and his deeds so that we could begin to ponder that question. The first three centuries of Christianity leading up to our creeds being forged by the fire of the Spirit tried to put language to the light we saw as we faced that question. The saints found glory giving their answer to that question. Who is Jesus Christ? The gospel today presents us with the beginning of an answer that a lifetime of words and thoughts and feelings can only begin to answer: “a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”
When we turn interiorly to ourselves and ask, “who am I?”… by our baptism, sealed in our confirmation, and strengthened by the Eucharist… we can say, “I’m not sure that I know who I am, but I know that I belong to him. When I was lost he came as my brother, as real as my own flesh is real. As he came up breaking the surface of the dark waters, the dove and the voice came down tearing open the heavens. He did not need to do that, but he did… because he loved me. And if he loves me, then the voice that loves him must love me. And that was only the beginning of his love.”
My friends… what I want to tell you today is that your baptism was indeed a mist blessed day. It was a day that your life stepped into endless wonder as you discovered who you really are. Go out into that world and be a Christian. See the meaning beyond the passing things of this world. See the souls around you in all their beauty, just as God has let you see in yourself.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.