When I attended church yesterday, there was a visiting chaplain from a local hospital there to perform the mass. The day’s gospel was about the Baptism of the Lord (Matthew 3:13-17). The way the chaplain explained what our baptism means, impacted me enough to pass it on. But first, I will tell you that I am not a religious expert, nor am I trying to pass my beliefs on to you. With that said, I hope that this post will give you the same sort of insight that the homily did for me.
The priest first explained that when a parent decides to have their baby baptized, they are actually making a commitment to the child and the church to be the child’s primary religious teacher. The child’s God-parents are also agreeing to be the child’s religious teacher. So what are you supposed to teach the child, other than to love God? The priest explained that when the child is anointed during their baptism, they are joined to Christ and share his threefold mission as prophet, priest, and king. You are probably asking yourself, “How can my child be like a prophet, priest, and king?”
This is how he explained it. Once you are baptized, you are to be a prophet of God. You are to share your faith with others. You are to tell friends, family and strangers how much you love God. How God has touched your life and what God can do for them. I am not saying that you should be a prophet that proclaims the second coming of the Lord. I am saying that the people around you should know how much God means to you. Hopefully, through your actions, those that don’t know God will be willing to seek God out. This should be true at home too, not just out in public. Because your children need to know how you feel about God. They, in turn, will want to learn more about God, too.
That brings me to your role as a priest. No, I am not saying you have to go out and take your vows to be a priest or a nun. Being like a priest means that you should pray for others. When you pray, do you pray for only your needs or do you pray for the needs of your friends and family? Do you ever tell someone that you will say a prayer for them? Do you really say the prayer? It’s easy to say you will pray for someone and I am sure God hears you when you make that promise. But I am sure God is also waiting to see if you will really follow through with your promise and include that person in your prayers. God might even be waiting to see if you mention that person first, before you ask God’s help for yourself. Again, this is something that your children need to see you do on a daily basis. So they too, will pray for others…like for their parents.
That leaves the role as a king (or queen). Your role as king or queen is to teach others God’s Ten Commandments. That doesn’t mean you should walk around stating them for all to hear. This means that you should live by them. By living by God’s commandments, your daily examples should teach those around you what God’s laws are. As for children, I think it’s okay to bring up a specific commandment when it applies in their life. For example, what better way to explain to your child that they should not take gum without paying for it, then to tell them about the commandment, “Thou shall not steal.” By living God’s commandments, your child will learn to live by them also.
By now you should have noticed that the baptismal roles that your child gained when they were baptized cannot be fulfilled when they are infants. That is where the parents and God-parents come in. If you noticed my explanations for each role, I described you, as an adult, being the example to the children. That is because you are the first religious teachers. What you say and do is being watched by little ones. They may be your own children, they may be a friend’s child or they may be complete strangers. None the less, they are watching your actions and will most likely follow in your footsteps.
I’m not sure my explanations did the homily justice. However, if you are interested in what I have just said, you can google baptism on the web and find more detailed articles about it. After hearing this homily, I mentally rated my daily examples and found there is definitely some room for improvement. It can be done; I just have to make more of an effort towards it. It really gives you a whole new twist on the well-known phrase, “WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?”
I hope this post helped you a little. I know it helped me, because now I will have a reminder to go back to when I forget what I signed up for when I became baptized and it will help me strive to be more like Jesus.
God Bless You,