At the end of last year we welcomed Alexander into our Christian family. His baptism was here on December 28th and was a wonderful and joyful occasion. His family have generously shared this photo with us and we wanted to share it with you. Please keep Alexander in your prayers and rejoice.
You may also remember that I mentioned Alexander in my evening homily a couple of weeks ago as we celebrated the Baptism of our Lord. For those of you who were at the morning Mass and didn’t hear the homily it is presented below.
Homily from Sunday 11th January, 2015 – The Baptism of the Lord
Readings: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7, Psalm 28, Acts 10:34-38, Mark 1:7-11
When was the last time you were at a baptism? Was it recently, can you remember what happened? Was it a long time ago, are you sitting there thinking I honestly can’t remember. Was it your own baptism? Can you remember it or were you just a baby?
The last baptism I went to was only two weeks ago. He was a little baby only a few months old. His name was Alexander Phillip. It was a wonderful occasion, lots of happy people, lots of joy. Very Christian!
Baptism is a Sacrament, it's the first sacrament a Christian can receive as it is the sacrament that welcomes the new Christian into the Christian family.
Sacraments are very special moments, they are points where heaven and earth touch. Where Gods full glory flows over us, where we can encounter our God and creator.
We have just heard Mark describing the baptism of Jesus. Jesus standing in the water, heaven opening and the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descending on Jesus.
That same thing is exactly what happened at Alexander’s baptism. I poured water over Alexander head, I said the words “Alexander Phillip, I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
He shared that moment being held above our font with Christ as He stood in the Jordan. God was please and the Holy Spirit came to live in Alexander.
The baptism freed Alexander from sin. It's not a magical spell that means he will never be naughty again. But the gift of God's grace, a grace that will, through his whole life strengthen him to resist the bad things God hates and to do the good things God loves. Because of his baptism the Holy Spirit will live with him, and support him all his Christian life.
In December Alexander became a member of our Church, part of the body of Christ, part of our family, a family of over a billion Christians all taking their place and loving and serving their God and all those around them. You may never have met Alexander but he is your brother now, and I ask you to pray for him, his parents and God parents.
Baptism contains some of the richest signs and symbols of our faith.
First there is water, it represents purity, the washing away of sins. But the word baptism means plunging, the immersion in water. This descent into the water and return to the air, is the journey we share with Christ, as he died on the cross, descended into hell, defeated death and rose again to eternal life. Because baptism is sacramental, Alexander really shared that journey and that victory.
The white clothes are an unstained outward sign of Christian dignity. We wear white at Baptism, we also wear white at first communion, confirmation, weddings, father and I wear white robes to serve here at the alter, and we will cover the coffin at a funeral with a white pall. Baptism and death are linked; both are the start of a Christian life. Baptism in this life, death is the start of our eternal life with Christ.
Another symbol is light, for Baptisms we light the Pascal candle, the candle we first lit on Easter Sunday. It signifies the light of Christ returning to the world, and during the Baptism we light a candle from the Pascal candle, so that the newly baptised may always walk in the light of Christ.
We also use oils for anointing, just as priests and kings are anointed with oils at their ordination or coronation. Alexander was welcomed as an adopted daughter of God the Father and brother to Christ, part of the royal priesthood, that is our Christian family.
The one odd thing about our Gospel today is that it’s Christ who is being baptised. There has only been one man who didn’t need the gifts of baptism, and that was Christ. Christ knew was that the Baptism was for us. That moment in the Jordan has been shared billions of times, each of us at our baptism was also with Christ in the Jordan.
Baptism is a gift, it’s a joy, it’s a moment shared with Christ that enables us to live a life filled with Christ’s joy. You, all of you, are brothers and sisters of Jesus. Go out into the world and share that joy.