Baptism of the Lord

Baptism of the Lord

Gospel Reflection Luke 3:15–16, 21–22

What’s that therefore? Why are we presented with the various and sundry teachings we have in scripture? Are they important? Do they mean the same thing now that they meant when they were originally recorded? Should we actually believe scripture in the same way in which the earliest Christians did — you know, those closest to the time of Christ, the Apostles, and Fathers of the Church? Or, did those earliest Christians and teachers simply get it all wrong?

These are the questions that the proponents of modernism have been asking, not just for the past few years, or even the last hundred. No, the Christian journey to Modernism began with the questioning of all things Catholic by the Protestant Reformers. It is the height of hubristic pride that causes people to think that they have advanced so much, spiritually and intellectually speaking, beyond those Christians of the first few generations. Besides, (they say) they (the early church) simply didn’t understand human nature with the maturity of our modern intellect.

At this point you’re probably asking yourself, what does this have to do with Baptism, or the Baptism of the Lord? Baptism is one of the central themes that both scripture and the tradition of the church links to our individual salvation. Yes, Catholics still believe and teach that Baptism is the normative means by which we enter the Body of Christ, Church. In fact, the Apostle Paul, in our second reading this morning, refers to baptism as “the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…”

There are many passages in the New Testament that our progenitors of faith understood to mean that we must be “baptized for the remission of our sins” as part of our entry into the Church — thus beginning our life of faith with a clean slate, so-to-speak. Though sinless himself, and not requiring a washing as we do, Jesus was indeed baptized as an example to us — honoring this, we read that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, and the Father audibly proclaimed “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The worldly wisdom that crept into Protestantism is that baptism is merely a symbol of something that represents our inward salvation. Most of them still say that we should indeed be baptized, but most question the spiritual efficacy of baptism. Many abandon the necessity of Baptism completely.

Titus 3:5

In baptism, the Church recognizes that we each receive the grace necessary to be “saved,” we are sacramentally cleansed of our sins, and brought into the family of God. Baptism seals our adoption as children of God. As such, baptism is our first infant step on our lives journey of faith, leading to sanctification and eventual final residence in the heavenly realm.

The Bible presents us with the spiritual truth, necessary to bring us into relationship with God. Every human person has sinned and is in need of being reconciled with God. The Bible presents us with Salvation history, the story and plan of how we are to go from sinner to Saint. The story and details contained therein are timeless and even immutable. These spiritual truths don’t change from generation to generation, nor will they change, should God delay the second coming of Christ for another thousand years.

No development of human wisdom and or feelings will justify abandoning traditional teachings of the historic deposit of faith.

Luke 3:15–16, 21–22

The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” 

After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

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