5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Today, as I mentioned earlier, we have the special joy of welcoming a new member into the mystical body of Christ, the Church.  In just a few moments, when Ashley Jordyn is baptized, she will begin to share in the divine life of God.  She will become a Temple of the Holy Spirit.  Today is the beginning of Ashley‘s walk with the Lord.  It is a journey that will last throughout her life and for all eternity.  For the rest of her life, she will go on walking with the Lord, day by day; each day drawing nearer to her eternal destiny, which is to be forever with God in Heaven.

The Lord commanded His Apostles to go out and baptize all nations, and teach them all that He has commanded them.  Today we fulfill the first part of the Lord’s command for Ashley.   Teaching her all the Jesus commanded will be a process that will be on-going for the next several years.  Dear parents, today you are promising to teach Ashley the faith.  You are the first teachers of the faith for your children.  Children learn by watching and imitating their parents.  And you, Godparents, today you are promising to assist the parents in their duty.  The whole community is here to assist in that duty, of course, but the family is the first and most important place where children learn about God.

Whenever we witness a Baptism, we should call to mind our own baptism.  We were all incorporated into the mystical body of Christ on the day of our Baptism.  Promises were made on our behalf, or if we were old enough, we ourselves made those promises.  We promised to reject sin and evil and follow the Lord.  As we call those promises to mind, we can examine ourselves and ask if we have lived up to those promises.  We all fall short of the glory of God, of course.  Scripture reminds us that even the just person falls seven times a day.

Baptism is a good reminder of how much God wants to wash away our sins and pour His grace, His very life, into our souls.  And make no mistake about it: it is not an accident that we are Catholics.  The Lord has called each and every one of us here.  It is not merely because we were born and raised in the Faith; for converts, it is not that they simply decided to become Catholic: The Lord calls each one of us just like He called Saint Peter in the Gospel today.

Saint Peter was a fisherman.  He was not a rabbi; he worked a regular job.  Jesus came to him while he was doing his day-to-day work: washing and mending his nets.  When the Lord revealed Himself to Peter, through the miraculous catch of fish, Peter immediately recognized his own unworthiness to even be in the presence of the Lord.  He fell down on his knees and told the Lord to leave him for he was a sinful man.  Jesus knew Peter, better than Peter even knew himself, and Jesus chose him.  Jesus called Peter and he responded.  When Jesus called, Peter left everything and followed Him; and as a result, God did great things through him.

Jesus Christ calls each and every one of us here.  We are not here by accident.  The Lord is working in the lives of each and every one here.  It is not we who have chosen the Lord: He has chosen us.  He wants us to follow Him; He wants us to put Him first in our lives.  He wants each one of us to love Him with our whole heart.  It doesn’t matter what obstacles to personal holiness you may think exist in your life.  Jesus Christ is calling each and every one of us to love Him with all that we are and with all our strength.  Each and every one of us is called to be a Saint.

And a Saint is not just someone who kneels in a monastery all day.  Saints are those who love God with their whole hearts, and God fills their hearts with His life and His love and His joy and they, then, take that joy and that life and that love out into the world and share it with others.  When I say that we are all called to be Saints, I am not saying that we are all called to run away from the world and hide; I am saying that we are all called to live our lives for God.  And God wants us all to be happy.  God created us to be happy.  Ultimately, He wants us to be happy with Him forever in Heaven, yes, but He wants us to be happy even in this life even now.

True happiness is only found by giving our whole heart to God and by doing His will.  It sounds contradictory to our ears, our culture tells us the opposite.  Our culture says that happiness is being able to do whatever I want.  But those who do whatever they want and have everything they want still, in the long run, find that they are unhappy.  The more selfish, and greedy, and sinful we are the less happy we will be.  Sin can give immediate gratification, but it cannot ever satisfy our hearts.  Our hearts can be only be satisfied by God alone.

How do we do God’s will?  What is His will for me?  God’s will for you is for you to live your vocation faithfully and with love.  Do everything to the best of your ability and do everything for love of God.  Live out the promises made at your Baptism: reject Satan and all his works and empty promises and do all you can to be a faithful son or daughter of God.  Pascal once said that if you want to be a good Christian, do what good Christians do and you will become one.  We should do everything in our power to rid ourselves of sin; we should make frequent use of the Sacraments, and strive to do everything that we do out of love.  We also need to ask God for the grace to be faithful and to love as we ought, and trust that He will give us the grace if only we ask for it.

Lord Jesus Christ, help us as we renew our baptismal promises, to truly reject sin and live in the freedom of the children of God.  Make of our hearts an acceptable dwelling place for Your Holy Spirit.  Fill us with Your life, Your love, and Your joy.  Help us to bear witness to you in the world.  Help us to love You above all things and help us to love others as You want us to.  Amen.