The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which concludes the Christmas period helps us to reflect on the profound sense of our baptism. Today, thanks to the Holy Spirit and Pope Francis, we find ourselves in the midst of a crisis, a crisis which does us a lot of good. We are passing from belonging to a Church of a sacred nature, in which the sacraments are like military ranks, that is they mark your level of belonging (from baptism onwards), to a messianic vision of the Church, built on Jesus the servant of man.This providential crisis is the reason why we must rethink the form, language and access times of the sacraments. For example, more room should be given to the Word of God in the liturgy of the sacraments. If I pour a bit of water on the head of a child while I baptize him or her, I am performing a simple act;but if I say “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, this is the Word of God which lets you be born again; we really must give the Word back to the water, to the oil, to the bread. Otherwise we risk becomingsacramentalized, listed in a dusty old register in the Sacristy.
To be baptized means to be sent forth; it means Church on the Move. To be baptized means to profess faith in Jesus and state publiclyI wish to live like Him, doing goodand freeing all men and women from slavery. Peter’s words in this regard are of paramount importance:” Of atruth I perceive that Godis no respecter of persons but accepts from every nation he who fears him and does what is right ”(Acts 10,34).
First of all we must realize that whoever loves justice is in the heart of God, he is already one of us marching towards the completeness which is the act of faith. The distinctions between near and far, believers and non-believers, come later, they are important but they all come later, not only later, but they must remain within this common human solidarity; we must be men among men like Jesus who put himself in line with other men and certainly not in the first row. Thus the Lord will say to each one of us:” You are my beloved son” not because we have performed sacred rites and marched in processions, but if we have done so while serving other men.
Jesus saw heaven open and the Spirit descending like a dove. Heaven opened say the Gospels. Asign of hope for the world, heaven open forever, and not closed menacingly in any law or doctrine. Let us ask the Lord for forgiveness for the times we have closed heaven in someone’s face imposing burdens which we do not even touch with a finger, like Jesus said.
From this open heaven the Spirit comes like a dove, i.e. the very life of God. It descends on you, loves you, stretches out its hand to you and will never leave you. No obstacle, no difficulty, no human or superhuman force will prevent God from loving us forever.