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)
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 was 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.
My lack of recall does not diminish the importance of the day. “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). It is the beginning of the mission God has for each of us as well.
Enter Faith—both the spiritual meaning and the adorable little three year old we had the blessing of adopting from China (*her name is Faith). When she entered our family nearly ten 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 ignited, and oil ready for anointing.
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 sheepdog.” That Lord, I can do!
About the Author:
Allison Gingras is the founder of Reconciled To You where she blogs, inspires, and speaks about the Catholic faith in our everyday life and the many opportunities life presents to discover the grace of God! Her new book, The Gift of Invitation, part of the Stay Connect Journals for Catholic Women launches Sept. 1, 2018. Allison is a WINE Specialist overseeing and facilitating the online aspect of the Between the WINEs Book Clubs for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization.