We are all candidates for holiness no matter who or what we are. Who else but Jesus would have called Peter, the one who denied Him, and made him the head of the apostles. Who else but Jesus would have called: St. Paul-the Persecutor of the Church to spread the gospel or St. Augustine-the Libertine to teach the masses or Thomas Merton-the playboy to popularize the contemplative life, Dorothy Day-the Communist to care for Christ’s poor.
All these people were flawed and so are we. But our imperfections, our sins cannot be used to duck God’s call to grace, to holiness, to conversion. The call we received at our Baptism. On this Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, it might be well to remember that Baptism, like membership in any organization or group carries with it privileges, obligations and expectations. Let me tell you a true story.
A Franciscan Priest, Fr. Brennan Manning who grew up during the depression, tells the story of some salesmen who had a few drinks while waiting for a train. They realized they were late for the train and rushed across the street to the station. As they barged into the terminal, one man inadvertently bumped into a ten-year-old boy selling apples. The men just kept going, except one who stopped.
He gathered up the apples and noticed that several of them were bruised. He reached into his wallet, took out five dollars, he put it into the blind boy’s hand and said, “I’m sorry we did some damage this is five dollars. I have put the good apples back in the basket, I hope you are okay.” As he started to walk away, the bewildered boy called after him. “Sir, sir are you Jesus?” We could all ask ourselves the question.
When was the last time I did something Christ-like? What would Jesus do? At our Baptism through symbol and ritual, we are welcomed into a community. A community of contradictions we are not perfect. It is a sinful community, always in need of God’s grace and favor. But, it is made up of people striving to make it a community of love. In an age that can be inhuman, there is compassion.
In the midst of death, there is a stress on life. For all the apparent absence of God in the world we Christians can joy in the presence of Christ. In spite of our weaknesses, Christ is our hope and our strength. Perhaps, St. Paul puts it best when he sums it all up by saying, “For in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God.” For as many of you, as were baptized, there is neither Jew nor Greek.
There is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Baptism is not just something we do when a child is born. Baptism reveals your identity, tells the world who you are. You are baptized into Christ, you are to strive to be Christ-like, try to act Christ-like. And when you do that, then the heavens will open again.
And the Father will declare with pride you are my son, my daughter, whom I love…with you I am well pleased.