“Baptism: ‘A Show and Tell of our Living Faith’”
Baptism of the Lord
“Show and Tell” is a generally a popular time in elementary classrooms and this is for at least two good reasons. First, education research has revealed that we learn best by concrete, hands-on experiences. When the children can see and touch some object their curiosity is roused, questions come easy, and they are usually eager to run home after school and tell others about the experience. Second, “Show and Tell” is popular because it boosts the self-esteem of the little one in front of the class showing and telling what they have learned. Something significant to the child is shared with others and the interest of the classmates encourages the child and makes him or her feel important.
“Show and Tell” is a manifestation of good learning technique and shows the worth of an individual. This Sunday’s gospel tells of a kind of “Show and Tell” on the part of both Jesus and us. It manifests who we are and how we have been gifted. The Baptism of the Lord reveals to us all that we have been given many gifts in our baptism and connects us to the gifts that God has given us to do His work on earth in the name of Jesus Christ.
In effect, Jesus’ baptism was different than John’s (his was, a baptism of repentance) Jesus’ was for the occasion of the revelation of Jesus’ identity. In the gospel of Mark, which we read from this year, Jesus’ identity is revealed at the baptism when he comes up out of the water (it is not in the gospel of Luke). The manifestation of Jesus’ identity as “beloved Son” while he was praying highlights for us the relationship with the Father and his identity as consistent with that relationship. In other words, what Jesus can do because of his relationship with the Father.
As we celebrate this Feast today, we also celebrate our baptism – not just in the waters of repentance but in the Holy Spirit which calls us to give ourselves completely in the work of the Church as we are connected to Christ and His ministry through our baptism. Receiving the Spirit in our own baptism manifests our identity as ones who are saved, renewed, justified, and heirs of eternal life, that is, ones who share in God’s life. Being baptized by fire (the Holy Spirit) means that we share in Jesus’ mission, including the total gift of ourselves.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church begins by addressing the desire for God. Every vocation begins there. A vocation begins when the person desires God more than anything else in life. The desire for the presence of God, the desire for God is the beginning of any and every Christian vocation.
As a faith community, we come to appreciate all this when we, like Jesus, contemplate this mystery of baptism in prayer.
Like the simple “Show and Tell” time in the classroom, we learn from experiencing and encountering the Divine through others. In this experience, our own self-esteem is boosted as Christian people when we realize that we ourselves are God’s presence for one another. The gift far exceeds the cost!