The Baptism of the Lord
IS 42:1-4, 6-7
PS 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10.
LK 3:15-16, 21-22
Understanding Baptism is an important part of understanding how to live as a Christian. This sacrament, which cleanses us of both original and actual sins that we commit, leaves an 'indelible mark' on our souls which claim us as a child of God forever. Through our Baptism, we become adoptive sons and daughters of the one true King, and in this way we are SAVED by GRACE. In other words, when we are baptized, we become members of the family of God. Through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, we become a new creation in Christ.
This understanding of salvation through grace is summed up very nicely today in Paul's Epistle to Titus:
"The kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:4-7).
So what exactly is grace?
Grace is the supernatural gift of God bestowed on us through the merits of Jesus Christ, for our salvation.
- A gift from God
- Freely given to us
- Not given to us because we deserved it or earned it, but because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross.
- A favor from God (it is a free gift granted to us. We have no claim to it. God grants us graces because He is good, not because we are good.)
As Saint Paul wrote in Romans 3:23:
"All have sinned and are in need of the glory of God.
They are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption which is in Christ."
Therefore, we are saved because of what Jesus Christ did for us, by his dying on the Cross.
How do we get grace?
Primarily through our Baptism. Through Baptism we receive this "sanctifying grace" which is the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity within our soul. Other denominations have received sanctifying grace within their soul through Baptism, which is necessary to obtain salvation. They are united to us through water and words.
We are saved by what Jesus did for us.
When we accept his death on the cross, God gives us grace. We cooperate with God's grace, and we become pleasing to Him.
- Makes us holy
- Makes us pleasing to God
- Makes us adopted sons and daughters of God
- Makes us temples of the Holy Spirit
Give us the ability to enter Heaven/We become justified
Another word for justified=saved. We prefer redeemed. Jesus redeemed us. He paid the price for our salvation. He said, "I will die in your place." The fact that Jesus rose from the dead means that we can go to Heaven. He rose from the dead, and therefore we will share in the glory of the Resurrection. That means those who die in the friendship of God, in the friendship of God's grace, are justified; saved; redeemed by the merits of Jesus Christ. God gives every one enough grace to be saved. Everybody during their lifetime is given sufficient grace for salvation.
If a person is not saved, it's because they did not cooperate with God's grace.
Our will (our choice) can say yes or no to God.
How else can we receive grace?
- Attending Mass, receiving the Sacraments (particularly Eucharist and Reconciliation), by people praying for us, by reading the Bible, by reading the lives of the Saints, just by listening to a homily or radio. God uses the voice and words of a preacher and be an instrument or channel of actual grace.
Grace can come to us through holy people, holy places, and holy things.
Does the Church believe that we can work our way toward heaven?
No! We cannot work our own way toward salvation. We need God's grace and the sacraments.
Good works for us means living out our faith in love! It means loving God and loving neighbor. It means following the Ten Commandments. It means helping the poor. We do NOT mean that we can work our way to salvation without God's grace.
Although most of us cannot remember our Baptism, we each actively participate in our Baptism in the "here and now" when we act in obedience to God and His Church through faith.
May the promise of new life through the waters of Baptism give you everlasting peace,
By: Mary Sampey, Director of Evangelization, the Catholic Community of Connellsville