Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
January 13, 2019
I’m sure that most of us are familiar with the storywriter Lewis Carroll.
We remember his famous story Alice in Wonderland,and Carroll also wrote Alice through the Looking Glass. This is the story where Alice meets the character 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 – Humpty Dumpty – 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
Well, this little exchange between Alice and Humpty Dumpty helps us to appreciate something about 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, each of these names – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – means something.
They say something about our shape. The idea is that 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 that is as God’s creation and therefore as sacred.
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 community level, we might support sensible policies that reduce carbon emissions. So, being baptized in the name of 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 the Son.
From the time of his baptism, Jesus lives with a sense of mission. And so, we are to view our lives as a mission from God.
This means that we are to do our part to benefit the kingdom of God on earth. On a personal level, we do this by being especially attentive to our family members and our other loved ones.
On a community level, we might volunteer some time teaching religion or leading a scouting program, things like that. So, being baptized in the name of the Son means that we shape our lives around Jesus and his sense of mission.
Our Shape: The Holy Spirit
And finally, we are to allow our baptism to shape us around 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 and even within us.
This means that we are to live with an awareness of God’s presence. On a personal level, we do this by making some space for some kind of prayer or prayerful reflection each day.
On a community level, we do this by participating in Mass and receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist which is the supreme way for God to be with us. So, being baptized in the name of the Holy Spirit means that we shape our lives around God who is present.
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 allow our baptism to shape us around these names.