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Named and claimed for Christ


Our recent celebration of Christmas and the Christmas season was a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate the awesome mystery of God choosing to come among us as the most fragile of human creatures; a child, totally dependent, like us, for his survival, growth, safety, protection and wellbeing, in the care of his parents, Mary and Joseph.

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Each year we wonder anew and give praise and thanks to God for coming and dwelling among us, for taking on our human condition and enabling us to come to God as faithful followers of Jesus.

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the baptism of Jesus, and recalled the words God spoke to Jesus: ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ (Luke 3:22) With these words, Jesus was named and claimed by God, and entrusted with God’s dream for the world, that all people would come to hear and take to heart the profound truth of God’s love, tenderness and mercy for each one of us. Immediately after his baptism, we are told that the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness where he fasted, prayed and discerned his mission, returning then to announce that the time had come, the kingdom of God was drawing near and all were invited to repent and believe the good news.

It is into this same relationship that we are called when we are baptised. It is the call to intimacy with Jesus, a call to be identified with him and to become missionary disciples who bring the good news of God’s love to each situation of daily life and each encounter with another. Our baptism signifies the beginning of our journey of faith into the life of the Catholic community, a life-long journey where, daily, we have opportunities to come close to God through our relationship with Jesus.

When children are baptised, it is the faith and wish of their parents that begins this process. Children are presented to the community of the faithful; they are named and claimed for Christ, and their parents state that they wish to have their child baptised. At this baptismal celebration, the child’s parents and godparents affirm their commitment to provide a witness to the faith and a willingness to share in the faith formation of the child. They are presented with a lighted candle, symbol of the light of Christ and keeping the light of Christ alive in their lives. Like Jesus, children are washed in the waters of baptism, anointed with the oil of chrism, clothed in a white garment. This signifies that they have become a new creation, have taken on the identity of Christ. So that they will become missionary disciples of Christ

When adults present themselves for baptism, they, too, are named and claimed for Christ. They profess their faith and their readiness to become followers of Jesus. They have gone through a process of conversion, seeking the truth of Jesus and his way of life. For all of us, the truth of the matter is that Jesus came to proclaim God’s never-ending love for each one of us. What God desires for all of us is the experience of love, mercy and compassion, along with an understanding that nothing can come between us and this great love of God.

As we move closer to the Lenten season, those adults who, at Easter, will celebrate the sacraments of initiation – baptism, confirmation and First Communion – will deepen their understanding of what it will mean to live as people committed to Christ and our parish communities will welcome and support them along the way with prayer, encouragement and example. For all of us, the words Jesus heard at his baptism continue to inspire us, and so we pray:

‘God our Father, through your Son you made us a new creation. He shared our nature and became one of us: with his help, may we become more like him, who lives and reigns with you.’

Kathy Horan is RCIA coordinator for the Adelaide Archdiocese.


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