The theological significance of our liturgical celebrations last week (Solemnity of the Epiphany) and this week (Baptism of the Lord) are immense. The manifestation of Jesus as Savior, as the Suffering Servant so accurately portrayed by the prophet Isaiah, invites us to truly, “Rise up in splendor.” Are we willing to take to heart that the glory of the Lord shines upon us? If so, we have both a magnificent privilege and responsibility, to let that radiance shine. “Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.” ~Isaiah 60:3
The celebration of the Baptism of the Lord is an excellent time for each of us to reflect upon our baptismal calling. We are called to holiness. The temptations of the world can lure us into becoming complacent. We watch the moral decay and debauchery all around us and can easily come to the conclusion that we are doing okay comparatively speaking. We can judge our actions against the rest of society as a whole and quickly get a sense of righteousness. This is a dangerous path. The more perceptive evaluation reflects upon our lives in comparison to the glory of God which has shone upon us. Am I reflecting the light of Truth, Jesus Christ?
Our culture has been very effective at desensitizing us to sin. Each one of us can probably point to things that would have greatly offended us years ago but don’t hardly make us flinch now. The television and entertainment industry has incrementally challenged our morality through the years, and we now accept the reality of filth on our screens without complaint. If we are honest with ourselves as people of faith, shouldn’t we be outraged at some of what passes for entertainment? Why is it that the media industry has been so successful in taking us down the path of moral decline?
I had the privilege of baptizing a baby girl on Christmas Day and I was profoundly touched as the white garment was placed around her signifying her purity. The grace of God is brilliant. The white garment and the burning of a candle at the Rite of Baptism are symbols of a reality which should strike every believer to the depths of our being. God loves us so much that we are welcomed into the family. We share in the Divine life of Christ. Wow!
Do we take seriously our baptismal promises? Do we truly mean the words of the Creed when we profess our faith? If we answered yes to both of these questions, then it is time for one last question. Do our lives accurately portray that which we profess to believe?