Monday, January 9, 2012

Baptism: POWER!

We celebrate the Feast of Our Lord's Baptism today. This completes the trifecta of Epiphanies: Saturday commemorated the Wedding at Cana (it was the gospel reading anyway), yesterday featured the visit of the Magi and today is the Baptism of Christ.

The Second Vatican Council instructed:
The term laity is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of religious life specially approved by the Church. These faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world. (Lumen Gentium, V.31).

I highlighted the buzz words in the document because those words, sadly, have become fighting words. People see baptism as conferring POWER on them instead of functions that serve. POWER hunger has been a downfall of the Church from the beginning. Remember those boys in Jesus' company wanting authority? Spoiler alert: They didn't get it. When anyone thinks he or she should be given POWER and doesn't get it, it creates division and unhappiness. Jesus only promises service, not POWER. Unless it's the power to serve.

When you think you have to fight for POWER, then you're not happy to serve. When you're happy to serve, you see you gain power.
Wow, I just said something Kung-Fu like.
"Master Po, many candles make much light. And provides romantic ambiance for relaxing bath."
For some reason this morning I was reminded of something a speaker said at one of the Diocesan education conferences I was made to happy to attend in the 90's. His name escapes me but what he said was: "People say they are 'called by baptism' and they talk about joy in being Christian. How come we have so many people talking about joyful praise and joyful music and joyful communities but when you see the way they treat their neighbor or the way they talk about other people, you would think they weren't baptized by water but by lemon juice!"

He then made this really sour face and talked in a nasally affected way.

Christians, be happy and baptized! Serve someone. Serve your neighbor. Call your momma. Do something selfless. Thank someone who you admire.

Chant this mantra that I just made up:
Don't be sour and seek power, serve and know how to..umm...lurve.