Dear Parishioners and Friends,
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism. As Christ gave new meaning to the baptism exercised by John the Baptist, he would raise it to the dignity of a sacrament. This sacrament has what we call an “indelible mark,” informing us that the baptized person is configured to Christ and this can never be taken away, not even through sin. Given once for all, baptism cannot be repeated.
Why is this important? Because God’s grace is so powerful that neither sin nor death can destroy it. Even if someone were to reject his or her Catholic faith later in life, that person still enjoys being configured to Christ. This also means that they have the potential to recognize charity and truth in their lives, keeping open to the Word of God, maintaining or returning to a morally ordered life, and growing in empathy to the needs of the poor and forsaken.
I mention this because so many parents of adult children lament the fact that their child(ren) no longer “practice the faith.” Or grandchildren aren’t being raised in the faith. Or loved ones’ personal choices are in conflict with Catholic teaching. This also applies to spouses. The reasons and causes are varied and understanding them with sensitivity is essential if any reconciliation or healing is to occur.
A word of consolation that I offer to those carrying this burden comes with the assurance that the efficacy (impact, or fruitfulness) of baptism still remains. It has the power to reconnect loved ones to the life of the sacraments and to the practice of the Christian life. As these parents or grandparents remain saddened by the decisions of their children or grandchildren, the power of Christ’s life through his sacraments doesn’t go away. As Christ offered his commission to the eleven apostles, he commanded them to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).” This simple command reminds us that discipleship begins with the gift of baptism, then followed by teaching. For some, the path of discipleship runs a straight and smooth course; for others, a long and arduous journey.
May this feast and this New Year be an opportunity to invite family members and friends to rediscover this grace given freely by Christ who the Father declared to be, “my Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Joyfully yours in Christ,