By Father Alonzo Q. Cox
THIS JUNE, I will celebrate nine years of priesthood. These have been nine years filled with God’s love and mercy. I must say that it has been nine happy years!
As I was preparing for my diaconate ordination, which was six months before my priesthood ordination, the liturgy professor at the seminary conducted sacramental practicum courses for our class. As soon-to-be ordained deacons we were now able to preside solemnly over two sacramental celebrations – marriage and baptism. I was very much looking forward to presiding at baptisms. Baptisms are always moments of great joy and happiness. It’s always touched my heart to see families come together during a baptism ceremony, to see tears of joy, not sorrow flowing from the eyes of moms, dads and grandparents.
Over these last nine years of my priesthood, I have lost count of the number of infants I have baptized, but never have I forgotten the immense joy that comes over me when I celebrate this beautiful sacrament.
Today we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord. This was yet another moment filled with joy! Everyone thought that John the Baptist was the Messiah, the one who is to come. The people were filled with great expectation, believing that they were in the midst of the savior, when John quickly tells them,” I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16).
John the Baptist proclaims that Jesus is the one that we have all be waiting for. After Jesus had been baptized, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Lord, with the voice of the Father proclaiming Christ has his beloved son.
Each time I celebrate the sacrament of baptism, whether for infants or adults (at the Easter Vigil), that image of the Holy Spirit is embossed in my mind and heart. By water and the Holy Spirit, these newly baptized have become a new creation in Christ. On the day of our baptism, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit. As water is poured and the words – “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” – are spoken, we have been claimed for Christ our Savior.
Baptisms are moments filled with grace and holiness. We see that with our Lord’s baptism. We must allow the Holy Spirit to be at work within our lives, as we strive every day to continue the mission of preaching the Good News. The Holy Spirit strengthens us to be faithful and holy witnesses of Christ our Savior and King.
Let us be heralds of the Gospel, filled with the Spirit, professing that Christ is the beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased.
Readings for the Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7 or Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11
Psalm 29: 1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10 or Psalm 104: 1b-2, 3-4, 24-25, 27-28, 29-30
Acts 10: 34-38 or Titus 2: 11-14; 3: 4-7
Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22
Father Cox is the pastor of St. Martin de Porres parish, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and diocesan coordinator of ministry to African-American Catholics.