Looking back on Baptism in our lives

As we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of Jesus I wondered if some might be interested in what two Vincentian priests think looking back on Baptism in the later decades of their lives. Perhaps it might trigger some thoughts about your own Baptism. If you are among those who would be interested, I and Fr. Pat Griffin posted such thoughts on these pages in the recent past.

On my personal blog site, I reflected on the meaning of my Baptism in a Christmas letter to my family and friends “Celebrating the Birth of Christ for the 80th time!” 

Since there have many births recently in my family I was very conscious of how the birth of a baby changes everything in a family.  From there my mind went to how the birth of one baby in particular literally changed everything for not just one family but everyone! Just why did Jesus become one of us?

He came, not to change God’s mind about us, but to change our minds

  • About God – He proved that God really does identify with us and knows intimately our day to day problems… and their worst manifestations, even the horrible reality of betrayal and death on a cross.
  • About ourselves – He reminds us that we beloved sons and daughters of God made in God’s image and likeness.
  • About one another – He showed us what it is like to be sons and daughters of God who cares for everyone, especially the lowest and the neglected.
  • About what the kingdom of God looks like – He taught us that the kingdom of God excludes no one and is not a kingdom ruled by a few select individuals.
  • About all creation – He demonstrated what it means to be sons and daughters of God who cares for everyone and everything in an unfolding universe.

If this is not a call to change our way thinking I don’t know what is. We are still struggling to understand how the birth of Jesus changed everything – for everyone – literally

Jesus came to wake us up to our dignity in the “real world” of being sons and daughters of God.

… I don’t remember anything from my first celebration of the birth of Jesus. Nor do I remember anything from my Baptism into Christ. But I now understand my Baptism as the beginning of my journey of waking up to who I really am as a human being fully alive in God with all my brothers and sisters today and reaching back (even all beyond the generations to 1493 a cousin in Germany traced on my father’s side!) to Adam and Eve.

I am proud of being John Freund, son of Alice and Richard Freund. I am proud to be a Vincentian priest. But, ultimately, I am still waking up to the implications of Baptism, the vocation of being a person who is trying to put on the mind of Jesus.

I now understand why Pope Francis says it is more important to remember and celebrate our Baptism than our birthday. It marks the beginning of the journey into this radical new way of understanding what it means to be fully human.

The exciting realizations of keeping Christ not only in Christmas but in my remaining days.

  • I now realize the birth of Jesus is an invitation to a radical change in my thinking.
  • I now realize that my Baptism is the specific call to recognize and put on the mind of Christ.
  • I now realize that if I understand what a dignity it is for us to be the mystical body of Christ, I must mature into this new way of seeing, thinking, and acting out of my Christ-consciousness.

This vision of life is far more exciting than the toys I got from Santa Claus as a child! It is a gift that truly keeps giving life! I hope that each year your excitement also grows.

Most recently Fr. Pat Griffin reflected on “Words Whispered in Our Ears at Baptism.

Sometimes somebody important to us says something to us that we never forget: a parent or family member, a friend, a teacher. At various times and places, the words play back for us and give us insight, confidence, or pause when we are in a particular situation. Perhaps, especially, words that we have from our parents carry this special weight….

The story of the Baptism of Jesus reminds us of that truth in his life and what a difference it made. Let us grasp that truth for ourselves. Remember how God whispered to us on the day of our Baptism: you are my beloved child, I am pleased with you. We may have forgotten that. Let us pray that our memory be jogged so that we live as and treat one another as God’s beloved children. People on whom God’s favor rests.

What do you think about your Baptism?

  • Do you know the date of your Baptism?
  • Do you celebrate your Baptism?
  • How did Baptism change your life?
  • Is Baptism still changing your life?
  • What does Baptism really mean for you?