The trimmings are all gone, the twinkling lights are packed away in boxes, the crib figures are safely wrapped up and stored in the attic. The Christmas season is well and truly over. And yet today we have a repeat of last Sunday’s gospel. After Christmas the liturgy concentrates on the beginning of Our Lord’s public life. In the gospel we witness John the Baptist point out Jesus and say: Behold the Lamb of God.
Following on from last Sunday’s feast, we are reminded once again of Our Lord’s Baptism which was the curtain raiser to his earthly ministry. It began his mission of gathering all people into the one family of God, the Church, which exists to lead them back to the Father. Our Lord spent his whole life doing good, touching human lives, healing people, freeing them from the darkness of sin, and directing them to lives worthy of their calling as children of God. We too have been chosen to continue this saving work which Christ began, and if we are to be true followers of Christ, then we are to have an active part of that mission to the world we live in. At the moment of our own baptism the seed of God’s life was planted within us. And yet, that grace-filled day was only the start of our conversion process. It takes a lifetime for the seed of faith to grow, mature and blossom. The only home for a Christian to live in is Christ and his Church, and we should settle for nothing less. There should be no such thing as a freelance Christian, we have to be full and active members of the Church. And if we are to enter into this new and exciting experience as members of God’s family, then we must have a clear idea of what kind of family we are meant to be. To follow the way traced by Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ demands, at the very least, a loving response on our part. Baptism is a dedication of ourselves to the call of Christ who went about doing good.
And so today we should reflect on the extent to which Christ has penetrated our thoughts and influenced the way we live our lives. We are what we do. How many of us can honestly say that we are leading lives which are worthy of our baptismal calling? Are we perhaps, as I said last week, just going through the motions of religion and putting on a pious show to deceive other people? God’s power shines out when and where we least expect it, and in the most unlikely places. We preach not only with words, but by the way we live, and by the effort we exert to make the world a better place by our presence in it. The practice of charity and humility spotlights what is wrong with selfishness, pride and arrogance. It exposes evil and sinfulness for what they are. The example we display in our everyday lives paves the way for Christ in others.
And so today we should pray for a greater insight into our own personal role in Christ’s saving work. Almighty God works through ordinary people like you and me. As the Baptism ritual states: We are to walk always as children of the light, keeping the flame of faith burning brightly within our hearts.
Being a disciple of Christ demands outstanding service: and it costs no less than everything we possess.