Today is not only the feast of the Baptism of our Lord; it’s also a feast of sorts for a newborn baby here in Denver, the first child of my close friends. Born less than 4 weeks ago on the Feast of Our Lady of the Advent (another beautiful, appropriate, and significant feast day for this little one), Baby Mateo is becoming a Christian today.
It goes without saying that this is a significant day for Mateo, the day he is united fully to Christ and His Church. But for our parish here in Denver, it’s also cause for celebration. Our tiny church only seats about 150 people and, because it doesn’t have a school, there are few young families in the parish. As you might imagine, that translates to very few infant baptisms.
When Mateo’s parents called to schedule this happy day, an overjoyed priest requested that the ceremony occur mid-Mass, as opposed to the option of taking place as a standalone ceremony. I hadn’t given that distinction much thought in the past, but I have since — and as a friend and a parishioner, I’m grateful for their choice. Celebrating this Sacrament during Mass and with anyone who happens to attend this particular Mass is even more beautiful when you consider that Mateo’s mom attended daily Mass nearly every day of her pregnancy; this community has been watching Baby Mateo grow and been praying for him for months.
Last week in Rome, Pope Francis spoke about the significance of the day we are baptized, and called on each of us to learn the date of our own baptisms and celebrate them as feast days:
“Today, at home, go look, ask about the date of your Baptism and that way you can bear in mind that most beautiful day of Baptism. To know the date of our Baptism is to know a blessed day. The danger of not knowing it is losing awareness of what the Lord has done in us, the memory of the gift we have received. Thus, we end up considering it only as an event that took place in the past – and not by our own will but by that of our parents – and, thus, has no impact on the present. Indeed, we must reawaken the memory of our Baptism. We are called to live our Baptism every day, as the current reality of our lives. … As I know my birthday, I should know my Baptism day, because it is a feast day.”
Something tells me Mateo won’t have a hard time remembering his feast day because of the significant day his parents chose to welcome him into the Church. I pray that we who witness this happy day will carry the authentic joy of this Sacrament into the dailyness of our lives, and that, as Pope Francis instructs, we may find the memory of our own baptisms reawakened within us.
“We, by Baptism, are immersed in that inexhaustible source of life which is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history; and thanks to this love we can live a new life, no longer at the mercy of evil, of sin and of death, but in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.” — Pope Francis