Today we celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist. We usually think of John the Baptist during Advent, because he was the last great prophet to prepare people for the coming of Christ. But – for many centuries – the Church has celebrated his birth on June 24th. It is one of those feast days that is so important that it supersedes the regular Sunday Mass!
As Catholics, we make a big deal out of John the Baptist for a very good reason – Jesus made a big deal out him, too! Jesus went to John for Baptism and gave His approval to John’s work. He also told the people that John was the greatest prophet of all. That’s pretty high praise.
I’m sure that most of us – indeed most Catholics around the world – associate John the Baptist with Baptism. This makes sense because John spent so many years Baptizing people in the Jordan River. His baptisms were a preparation for the Sacrament of Baptism which is so important to us today.
The Feast of John the Baptist is a good time for us to think about the Sacrament of Baptism. Jesus told us we must be reborn of water and spirit (John 3:5), which happens when we are Baptized. He also commanded us not only to teach – but to Baptize – others in His Name. (Matthew 28:19)
This is why – since just after Jesus ascended to Heaven – Catholics have made a point of having the babies Baptized. I know that I was Baptized when I was two weeks old! I’m sure this is true for many folks of my generation. Our parents wanted to share the gift of faith with us – and did so first and foremost by having us Baptized.
Sadly, that is not always the case these days. All too often I meet people who do not have their children Baptized promptly. While I do not doubt their good intentions, I would remind them that having your baby Baptized shortly after birth is one of the most important ways that new parents fulfill Christ’s command. Not only does it make your new baby a member of Christ’s Church, Baptism also frees them from Original Sin, fills their soul with God’s grace, and unites them mystically to Christ. That’s why – for centuries – Catholic parents have made sure that their babies were Baptized as soon as possible!
Getting a child Baptized in our parish is very easy to do. We have Baptisms almost every Sunday of the year at 2:30 PM. All you have to do is call the Parish Office (908- 454-0112, ext. 3) to make arrangements.
If it is your first baby that is being Baptized, we ask you to attend a simple Baptismal Preparation meeting with Deacon Larry. As we all know, Deacon Larry is a really nice guy who will make things as easy as possible for you. If you need to attend class in Spanish, Fr. Leo will be happy to help you. If you need a special time for the Baptism (or the meeting), I will do my best to help you.
I really love to Baptize children – of any age. I’m sure all the other priests and deacons feel the same way! If you have an older child who was not Baptized as a baby, give me a call. I’ll help you get them Baptized quickly.
Please say a Hail Mary for me – and make sure you share this information about Baptism with your friends and family members. Let’s be sure to honor John the Baptist – and Jesus – by doing our part to get the children of our parish Baptized!
Have a great week!