Sunday, January 10, 2010

Baptized In the Spirit, "Be Who You Are"

Before anything else, it's worth noting that today's feast of the Baptism of the Lord might see the end of Christmas, but likewise marks the start of National Vocation Awareness Week, which takes "Baptized in the Spirit" as its theme for 2010.

For the record, lest any forgot: everyone in the church (read: each of us) has a vocation... but for roughly 99.7% of us, it won't mean a collar or a veil. So as the week starts -- in case you haven't already... or maybe could use another prod -- just ask yourself, "What about today? What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you?"

And whichever way it leads for you, all of us progress.

Back to the beat, though, earlier today the Pope baptized 14 infants (seven boys, seven girls) at the traditional Mass for this feast in the Sistine Chapel... delivering a noontime exegesis on the sacrament:
"With this sacrament, man becomes really son, the son of God. From this point on, the purpose of his existence is to reach, in a free and conscious way, that which from the outset has received as a gift. 'Be who you are' is the basic educational principle of the human person redeemed by grace.

"This principle has many similarities to human growth, where the relationship of parents with children passes through detachments and crises, from total dependence to the awareness of being children, from gratitude for the gift of life to maturity and the ability to communicate life. Generated from Baptism to new life, even the Christian begins his journey of growth in the faith that will lead them to consciously invoke God as 'Abba - Father' to turn to Him with gratitude and live the joy of being his son.

"A model for society is also derived from baptism: that of brotherhood. Fraternity can not be determined by ideology, much less by decree of any constituted power. We recognize our brothers from the humble but profound awareness of their being children of the Heavenly Father. As Christians, through the Holy Spirit received in Baptism, we have the gifts of faith and commitment to live as children of God and as brothers, to be the "leaven" of a new humanity, in solidarity and full of peace and hope."
...and, fresh off the US church's migration week (and renewed push for immigration reform), an impassioned plea for the human dignity of both migrants and Christians facing persecution worldwide:
"We must get to the heart of the problem! We must go back to the meaning of the person! An immigrant is a human being, different in origin, culture, and traditions, but a person to be respected with rights and duties, particularly in the workplace, where the temptation to exploitation is easy, but also in scope of the concrete conditions of life. Violence should never be the way to resolve difficulties for anyone. The problem is primarily human! I ask you to look at the face of the other and discover that he has a soul, a history and a life and that God loves him as he loves me.

“I want to make similar considerations with regard man in his religious diversity. The recent violence against Christians in some countries has aroused the indignation of many, not least because it has been reported in the most sacred days of the Christian tradition. The institutions, both political and religious, must not - I repeat – shirk their responsibilities. There can be no violence in the name of God, nor can we think of honoring Him by offending the dignity and the freedom of others”.
The universal church's 96th annual day for migrants will be again observed next week, in tandem with the yearly Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.