Our Mission Begins In Baptism

By Dr. Michel Therrien Part 1 of a weekly series It can no longer be business as usual. That’s the message Bishop David Zubik has for us. That’s why we have been called to be On Mission for The Church Alive! A mission cannot be business as usual because it is carried out by a new energy that brings new life. Today more than ever our mission calls us to reach out to those who don’t know God’s love and mercy. How do we begin to understand this mission? By returning to the source of this mission — our baptism. At the beginning of his public ministry Jesus was baptized. Why was that? He wasn’t baptized because he needed to be redeemed from original sin. He didn’t need to be forgiven or empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was baptized to unveil the Father’s gift to us of a new humanity. Jesus restored to humanity the image and likeness of God that had been disfigured by sin. At his baptism the Father simply made this fact known to all. “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21). The Father revealed that Jesus Christ is the one in whose image and likeness we were created. And in being baptized, Jesus showed us that baptism is the means by which he would restore that image and likeness to each one of us individually. When we are baptized our human nature is reborn anew by the same Holy Spirit who hovered over the waters at creation, descended upon Mary at the annunciation and upon Jesus after emerging from the Jordan River. We are given a new name in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are given a new identity as children of God. Through the anointing of the Holy Spirit we now live as sons and daughters in God’s own divine life. Nothing more wonderful can be conceived in our imaginations than this gift of the Father’s mercy to us. It is a gift that culminates in eternal communion with God should we persevere in faith, hope and charity to the end of earthly life. The Holy Spirit that descended upon Jesus also sent him out to bring to all this amazing good news of the Father’s kingdom of mercy and love. The sacrament of confirmation completes our baptism in the same way. We, too, are now sent out to live our identity as God’s children in the world; we are sent on mission — commissioned by the Spirit — to proclaim and witness to our Father’s infinite mercy in Jesus Christ. So in calling us to be On Mission for The Church Alive! Bishop Zubik asks us to proclaim with him that Christ always lives! And that the living Christ dwells within us through our baptism. To be the Church Alive! means not simply cultivating our own baptismal life in God. It also means going forth, confirmed by the Holy Spirit, to bring that gift of Jesus’ new life to others. Yes, that means that it can’t be business as usual. Because all of us are on that amazing mission together! Therrien is diocesan secretary for evangelization and Catholic education.