Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
January 13, 2013 9:30 and 11am
Saint Margaret Parish, Bel Air
I am sure that most of us are familiar with the storywriter Lewis Carroll.
Besides his famous story Alice in Wonderland, Carroll also wrote Alice through the Looking Glass. In this story, Alice meets Humpty Dumpty.
Humpty Dumpty is sitting on top of a high, narrow wall. Alice looks up and says, “And exactly like an egg he is!”
Humpty Dumpty responds, “It is very provoking to be called an egg – very provoking!” Alice explains, “I said you looked like an egg, and some eggs are very pretty.”
But Humpty Dumpty is not amused and says, “Tell me your name and your business.” Alice responds, “My name is Alice, but…”
Humpty Dumpty interrupts, “It’s a stupid name; what does it mean?” Alice asks, “Must a name mean something?”
And Humpty Dumpty retorts, “Of course it must; my name means the shape I am – and a good handsome shape I am too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.”
Baptism: Name and Shape
It may sound surprising, but this story of Alice and Humpty Dumpty helps us to appreciate something about our baptism.
We have all been baptized “In the name… of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” As Humpty Dumpty says, this name or each of these names – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – means something.
These names say something about our shape. In other words, we are to allow our baptism to shape us around God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Our Shape: The Father
First, around the Father.
The Scripture tells us that God is the creator of all that is. And so, we are to see all of creation as sacred, as a gift from our Creator.
This means especially in our times that we are to be alert to environmental issues. On a personal level, we might make sure that we recycle paper, glass, plastic and whatever else we can.
On a public level, we might support sensible policies that reduce carbon emissions. Being baptized in the name of God the Father means that we shape our lives around our Creator and the gift of creation.
Our Shape: The Son
And then, we are to allow our baptism to shape us around God the Son.
From the time of his baptism in today’s gospel, Jesus lives with a sense of mission and service. And so, we are to view our lives as a mission from God.
This means that we are to do something to benefit the kingdom of God on this earth. On a personal level, we are to be attentive to each member of our family and make their well-being a priority.
On a community level, we might volunteer some time teaching religion or coaching soccer or baking a casserole for Our Daily Bread. Being baptized in the name of God the Son means that we shape our lives around Jesus who lives with a sense of mission and service.
Our Shape: The Holy Spirit
And finally, we are to allow our baptism to shape us around God the Holy Spirit.
Today’s gospel tells us that the heavens open and the Spirit comes down from above. And so, God is now with us and with all humanity.
This means that we are to live with an awareness of God’s presence. On a personal level, we are to live prayerfully, not just saying prayers, but living with a sense of God’s care and guidance.
On a relationship level, this means that we are to respect God’s presence in the unborn child or in the adult with whom we disagree, in everyone. Being baptized in the name of God the Holy Spirit means that we shape our lives around God who lives within us and makes all human life sacred.
So, as Humpty Dumpty says, “My name means the shape I am.”
We are baptized “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Let’s make sure that we allow our baptism to shape us around those names.