Baptism—finding our identity between fire water and word!
As we begin the year 2013, the Church invites us to rediscover something of our identity in this moment when Christ was identified as the one in whom the Father was well pleased!
Identity seems to be a critical reality in our world today. It is different from the “tags” by which we identify people, as no-one totally fits into any of the boxes a tag will try to place him /her. Discovering our true identity—that which is specific to each individual –is crucial for a healthy and peaceful life.
As we begin this year then, we are invited to find something of our identity in the person of Christ, to whom three witnesses offer testimony at the beginning of his public ministry. Word bears witness to him, the word of the Prophet who identifies him as the one who will “baptize with fire”. St Catherine of Siena is remembered for one great phrase—“become who you are and you will set the world on fire!”. Christ did set the world on fire, even though most people would have had little consciousness of it, but it is a fire that has not gone out! Still that baptism of fire burns in hope, in justice and in charity! Fire and Word bear witness to Christ!
Water also bears witness to him, the water of the Jordan. When Joshua led the people of Israel across the Jordan, it was a defining moment for this people. They were now the People of God who stood on God’s land. They were to be a sign of the presence of God in the midst of the nations. As Christ passes through those same waters and emerges to stand there and pray, we realise something new is happening. God is anew present to the world—this time in the person of his Son, on whom the Spirit descends and in whom the Father is well pleased!
As you face into this new year, asking where it will lead you and seeking how you will be identified, remember this incident. You have passed through the waters of baptism, and you are standing on holy ground, wherever you are as you are identified with Christ and in you, as in him, the Father is well pleased!!
Fr Sean Maher
Aumônier des Irlandais