Today, the Sunday after the Epiphany, is the annual commemoration of The Baptism of Our Lord in the Catholic Church. Fr. Gerald Reinersman, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Cold Spring, KY gave his usual insightful homily to explain this Sunday’s Gospel and its implications for our lives.
First, he resolved obvious question: “Why would Jesus insist that He be baptized?” (Scripture tells us that John the Baptist was quite reluctant to do so.) Baptism is the first sacrament of initiation to the Body of Christ. It washes sin, including original sin, from one’s soul. But Jesus, after all, IS the head of this Body. Not only that, but He has neither original nor committed sin.
The reason is this: When Christ took on human form He wished to be fully joined to us in our human condition (that is, in all things except sin). One of the ways He did this was by being baptized. Thus, He instituted the sacrament of Baptism and taught us to do likewise.
Fr. Reinersman reminded us that while we are to have a personal relationship with our Lord, it is not private. “The Christian must live in community,” he said. When we come to Mass, “we are not consumers of religion, where we pick and choose as we might in a store.” Rather, we come to build communion with one another. This strengthens our relationships within the Body of Christ.
Fr. Reinersman’s points need to be heard by those on Capitol Hill who are trying to confine freedom of religion to church buildings.1 They are subjecting us to a barrage of federal mandates and executive orders whose goals include making religious beliefs subordinate to the State while labeling those who resist as being “intolerant,” opposing “equality,” etc. We can endure, but only if we pull together under Christ’s leadership.
1 – “The change in language was barely noticeable to the average citizen but political observers are raising red flags at the use of a new term ‘freedom of worship’ by President Obama and Secretary Clinton as a replacement for the term freedom of religion. This shift happened between the President’s speech in Cairo where he showcased America’s freedom of religion and his appearance in November at a memorial for the victims of Fort Hood, where he specifically used the term ‘freedom of worship. From that point on, it has become the term of choice for the president and Clinton.”
“In her article for ‘First Things’ magazine, Ashley Samelson, International Programs Director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, stated, ‘To anyone who closely follows prominent discussion of religious freedom in the diplomatic and political arena, this linguistic shift is troubling: The reason is simple. Any person of faith knows that religious exercise is about a lot more than freedom of worship. It’s about the right to dress according to one’s religious dictates, to preach openly, to evangelize, to engage in the public square.”
“Everyone knows that religious Jews keep kosher, religious Quakers don’t go to war, and religious Muslim women wear headscarves-yet ‘freedom of worship’ would protect none of these acts of faith.” From Randy Sly’s article, “Obama Moves Away From ‘Freedom of Religion” Toward ‘Freedom of Worship’” posted 7/23/2010 on www.foxnews.com