Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Baptism and names: Tuesday of the Octave of Easter

            I had a cool experience at the Easter Vigil Saturday evening—I had the honor of baptizing my first adult.  I absolutely love Baptisms and it was awesome bringing an adult into the faith!
            Baptism is intricately connected to Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Here one dies with Christ—goes under water—and rises again as a new person.  Baptism is a requirement for following Christ.  Peter reflects this belief when he repeats the words of Jesus: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you.”
            One of the parts of the Baptismal Rite can seem unimportant to us but is in fact crucial: the naming of the child.  One of the first things the priest or deacon says to the parents is, “What name do you give [have you given] this child?”  This simple question has its roots in early Christianity when children were named after foreign deities or other secular sources.  As a sign of newness in Christ, the baptized received a new name—a Christian name.  This tradition is still used around the world today, especially in mission territories like Ghana.
            In the Gospel according to John, Mary recognizes Jesus when he addresses her by name: “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’”  This is exactly what happens in Baptism.  By receiving a Christian name (or keeping a Christian birth name), Jesus calls us by name so we can recognize him.
            On this third day of Easter, thank God for the gift of your baptism.  Thank God for all the newly baptized received into the Church at the Easter Vigil.  This sacrament makes us completely new in Christ and allows us to recognize him.

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