by: Fr. Rodrigue Azanmasso, CJM
The word baptism is so common today; I can even say that it is as common as the word Christian.
Each year a great many men and women, youngsters and children are baptized. The feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a remembrance day for each of us; I mean all those who have received the baptism. We are unable to describe the deepness of the spiritual treasure we are endowed by the baptism, no human word is capable to describe it, we mostly use analogy to make it understandable to our human thought’ schema.
We are not eligible for such a grace but as it is stated in the second reading of this day liturgy ‘’God our savior revealed his eminent goodness and love for mankind and saved us not because of good deeds we have done but for the sake of his own mercy, to the water of rebirth or renewal, by the Holy Spirit poured over us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we should become heirs, in hope of eternal life’’.(Tit 3:4-7)
Two very important things need to be taken into account in the aforesaid, two realities that are the characteristics of someone who is baptized. The first one is the rebirth or the renewal of the baptized one, and the second which sustains and nurture the first is the gift of the Holy Spirit, the greatest treasure God gives to all his children. The baptism is as Saint Paul said entering into a real death with Christ in order to resurface as a new creature united with Christ who has died and was risen. (Rom 6:3-5)
For Saint John Eudes, ‘’baptism is a new creation, a second creation in comparison of which the first is but an image and a shadow’’ (O.C. Vol.II,p. 177). This second creation unites the baptized one so deeply to God in an alliance, a communion he described as followed ‘’It is an alliance not only of a friend with a friend, of a brother with a brother, or of a bride with a bridegroom, but also of a member with its head, and that is the most intimate of all alliance’’ (O.C. Vol IIp.185). The baptism is then a pact with God and its commitment is that when one bears the name Christian, he is obliged to imitate Jesus in the holiness of his life.
So, a Christian is someone who has been born again by God (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23) and has put faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The letter to the Ephesians (2:8 ) tells us that it is “…by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
A true Christian is a person who has put faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, including His death on the cross as payment for sins and His resurrection on the third day. Saint John in his Gospel (1:12 ) tells us, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” The mark of a true Christian is love for others and obedience to God’s Word (1 John 2:4, 10). A true Christian is indeed a child of God, a part of God’s true family, and one who has been given new life in Jesus Christ.
When we claim to be a Christian, we are identifying ourselves with Christ. We are saying we have surrendered to His Lordship and are committed to becoming more like Him, living as He lived. This means we actively participate in living the same kind of life Jesus did while He walked this earth.
Through the baptism we are caught into a mystery, an infinite treasure of grace and benefit: we are children of God. It is simply awesome, and we have to become what we are, God’s children. Although ‘’we have this treasure in earthen vessels ‘’2 Corinthians 4:7), we are not incapable, for Saint Paul said ‘’I can do all things through him who strengthens me’’ (Philipians 4:13).