There are important moments in a person’s life which change the direction or character of that life. There are moments of choice and celebration or of destiny or tragedy, moments which change our lives into ‘befores’ and ‘afters’.
Such is Christ’s baptism. It is a moment when his identity is once again revealed and his commitment to his mission is chosen and celebrated after 30 years of hidden growth. He had matured, grown in wisdom, and in obedience to the will of his Father.
At his baptism the vocation of Christ is revealed as Suffering Servant. He is to be the Messiah revealed in the Scriptures, the Suffering Servant foretold by Isaiah. Christ is to be both King and servant, announcing a kingdom yet coming to serve and to lay down his life before and for his people. He is revealed as champion of the poor, preacher of justice and mercy, teacher of love and faithfulness, and restorer of life to a people in thrall to sin and in slavery to death.
Through our own baptism each of us is grafted onto Christ. The common water of baptism ensures that we all share in the promises of Christ and of the Gospel. We remind ourselves of this fundamental sacrament and commitment when we sprinkle ourselves, or when we renew our vows or profess our faith and particularly in the rites of baptism itself and the sprinkling of Holy Water at the funeral rites.
The call of Christ invites us to renew our own free choice and to decide our mission once again. The commitment of marriage or of priestly life are not chosen once and forgotten except on anniversaries. The hard decisions and choices have to be renewed by most over and over again in the choices we make and the way we behave day to day. To love God is to keep the commandments and to win God’s favour is to be true to our commitments and promises freely chosen. There is no point in professing faith and living otherwise.
True love requires commitment, humility, suffering sometimes, and the taking of the path of service. It requires abandoning all that is not in accord with the commandments and teaching of the Scriptures and the renewal, constantly of a freely chosen commitment to follow Christ so that we too may hear the call of our common Father, ‘This is my beloved one in whom I am well pleased’.