Solemnity of Christ the King (B)

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King and within the context of our Mass we are going to celebrate the baptism of Lauren Gabrielle.  Celebrating Baptism within the context of Mass helps all of us to call to mind our own baptisms and what Baptism means to each and every one of us.

Baptism is a Sacrament.  The classic definition of a Sacrament is that a Sacrament is: “an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to convey grace”.  Christ instituted the Sacrament of Baptism when He sent the Apostles out to the ends of the earth to teach all that He commanded and baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Today, the first part of Christ’s command will be completed for Lauren; the second part, to teach all that Christ commanded, will take a lifetime.  We all go on learning and deepening our understanding of what Christ taught and Who He IS.

Christ instituted baptism and there are two parts: the part we will see and the part that we cannot see.  In just a few moments, we will all witness the Baptism of Lauren Gabrielle.  We will be able to see water poured over her head; we will hear the name of the Trinity invoked over her.  That is the outward sign, but there is more to baptism than the mere external signs; the outward signs effect supernatural graces that they signify.

Water has many uses.  Two of the most important uses are for washing and for drinking.  We use water to wash things everyday.  The first supernatural effect of Baptism is that it cleanses our souls of all stain of original sin which we were all born with.  Water also gives life.  Without water, human beings cannot live for very long.  The second supernatural effect of baptism is that supernatural life is infused into the soul.  Each of us began to share in the divine life of the Holy Trinity at our baptism.  By our baptism we were made children of God, our bodies were made temples of the Holy Spirit.  Through baptism we are elevated to a new status: we become adopted sons and daughters of God in Christ.

Baptism conforms us in a very special way to Jesus Christ.  Saint Paul says that in baptism, we die to sin and rise with Christ.  Immediately following our Baptism, we were all anointed with sacred chrism.  This anointing is a reminder that just as Jesus Christ was anointed priest, prophet and king, so we all share in those three offices by virtue of our baptism.

We are a royal priestly people, set apart by God, to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.  Prophets announced God’s message to others: we too are called to bear witness in the world.  A priest is one set apart to offer sacrifice and pray on behalf of others.  Every single baptized person is supposed to offer sacrifice: we are all called to offer ourselves to God.  God gave us everything that we have; there isn’t anything that we have that we have not received, Saint Paul says.  There is a difference between ordained priests and the priesthood that we all share in as a result of our baptism, but through Christ, we all have access to God and we can all offer ourselves to Him.  We are set apart by our baptism.  As a result of our baptism, we have entered into a very special relationship with God: we are His children.  We can ask Him for things; we can intercede on behalf of others in need of prayer.

Finally, we are a royal people.  Christ is King and through baptism, we share in that kingship.  And what does Christ’s kingship look like?  While on earth, He taught us that He came to serve, not to be served.  To serve Christ, and others for love of Him, is to reign.  In Heaven, we will reign with Him; we will go on for all eternity sharing in the divine life of the Holy Trinity.  Here on earth, we are to follow the example of our divine head: we are to take up our cross and follow the Lord.  In Heaven, Our Lord has a crown of glory; while here on earth, His crown was made of thorns.

All who are baptized share in these three offices; we receive them on the day of our baptism and yet we continue to grow into them and we all are to strive to fulfill them ever more faithfully.  Dear parents and godparents of Lauren, today you are answering on behalf of Lauren.  You are making promises on her behalf, and it is your responsibility to help her learn about her faith and learn to fulfill the offices that we have just been reflecting upon.  The Church teaches us that the parents are the first teachers of the faith to their children.  Godparents are to assist the parents in fulfilling that duty.  Children learn from imitating their parents.  It is by watching you and imitating you that Lauren will learn to speak and how to do all sorts of other things.  It is also by your example that she will learn about the importance of our Catholic Faith.  The parish family is here to support you in carrying out that role, but the ultimate responsibility is yours.  May God bless you and strengthen you with His grace as you take on these responsibilities.

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