By Allison Gingras
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son,* with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17; USCCB.org)
“The baptism of Jesus is the occasion on which he is equipped for his ministry by the Holy Spirit and proclaimed to be the Son of God” (Bible Endnotes for Matthew 3:13-17; USCCB.org).
Don’t tell my two sons, but I barely remember their baptisms, which would probably not be a big deal unless they knew how vividly I remember every detail of their baby sister’s special day. In my defense, not only were the boys’ baptisms over 16 years ago (hers only nine), but also I was in a very different place—emotionally, physically and spiritually.
My oldest son was eight weeks premature, however only spent two weeks in the NICU—a miracle we attribute to the Blessed Mother, though we were barely giving her any attention back then. We were just wise enough to know where to go when things got a little scary! We had to postpone his Baptism because of his compromised immune system. I thought it would be cute to hold his Christening on his original due date, which we did. That is the extent of that memory.
I remember even less of my second son’s initiation into the Catholic faith. I could blame sleep deprivation, as he was barely a few weeks old when the Church welcomed him. Though if I am really honest, I don’t remember much of it, because that day was all about the party and very little about the miraculous transformation that was taking place in my son’s soul.
Enter Faith—both the spiritual meaning and the adorable little three year old we had the blessing of adopting from China (and named Faith). When she entered our family nearly 10 years after the last child’s Baptism, things were very different. Most significant was after attending weekly Bible study for nearly five years, I was a self-proclaimed—and proud of it—“Jesus Freak.” My reclaimed Catholic faith was everything to me, and the Sacraments actually had meaning beyond the party and pretty outfits.
Faith’s Baptism held extra significance, because I realized that although I had not been there for her birth into the world, through a special gift of grace I would be present for her birth into the Church and God’s family. When I read the scripture account of Jesus’ Baptism, especially when God proclaims Jesus as His Son, my heart nearly explodes with joy as I contemplate what that means for each one of us. Jesus, with John the Baptist, is teaching us that through our Baptism, we, too, are claimed by God! We become His adopted sons and daughters, and if welcoming Faith into our home has taught us one thing, it is the beauty and blessing of a family bonded through adoption.
As a member of our family, she has a particular role—one that only she can fulfill. This is true of our place in God’s family. We are each given a “purpose and plan” (Jeremiah 29:11)—one that only we can fulfill. Just as Jesus’ Baptism equipped Him for ministry, so does ours—as the water is poured, candle lit and oil anointed. Jesus rose from the Jordan ready to shepherd the flock. When I first felt the call to full-time ministry, I had a moment of sheer panic. “Lord,” I cried, “I am not sure I can be a good shepherd.” My heart heard in reply, “That is good Allison, because all I need you to be is a sheep dog.” That Lord, I can do!
About the Author:
Allison Gingras is founder of Reconciled To You and host of A Seeking Heart on Breadbox Media weekdays at 10 a.m. ET. Allison blogs, writes, and speaks about Catholic stuff in the every day. She created the “Words With” daily devotional app series, Words With Jesus. Allison offers presentations on forgiveness, trust, and lessons from the Blessed Mother.