On this feast of the Baptism of the Lord, does this question cross your mind? “Am I going to heaven, into Eternal Life with our Creator, accompanied by my Lord and Savior, whom I have faithfully followed?” What will be asked of me?
Look at what was recited over you at your baptism. “You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of our Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven: ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” (Luke 3:16)
Baptism has clothed us with Christ. We are “other Christ’s” in whatever that takes a form in our lives. We are to bring the Christian dignity of that garment unstained into everlasting life. St. Paul’s letter to Titus directs us in how to do that. We are to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age.” (Titus 2: 12)
That is, we are to live with self-control, growing in justice, that is, working toward the establishment of right relationship with God and one another. We are to have a habit of prayer, however that comes out of us.
A realistic and honest way to live is to focus and concentrate on habits which lead us to sin. Bad habits. It is an honest way to confront sin within us. Identify a bad habit, (one), which leads to a particular sinful act. I am serious. It sounds “simplistic” it is a real approach to overcoming sin. Be patient with yourself, and, “begin again” when you falter. The important thing is to trust your baptismal relationship with God. Not only trust it, expect it.
Yes, we cannot always catch the Spirit immediately. The baptism of Jesus set Him onto his mission at thirty years of age. This week, take a little extra time to pray to the Holy Spirit: “Come Holy Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” Then be ready for whatever comes! To what path is the Lord calling you in this New Year?
A small but significant footnote. Did it ever strike you as to what was the difference between Jesus’ experience of the Holy Spirit at his Baptism, and the hundreds of others who were baptized in the River Jordan that day. They all received the baptism from John. What was different for Jesus? St. Luke tells us that after Jesus had been baptized, he came out of the river and “was praying.”
An essential habit for our life in the Spirit.Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P., is a member of the Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.