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Kevin ClarkeJanuary 09, 2023
priest baptizing a baby girlPhoto via iStock.

A Reflection for the Baptism of the Lord

Find today’s readings here.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness. (
Is 42:6-7)

What is it to be a baptized member of the Catholic Church? What is expected of us? We who wish to rise from the water, ourselves beloved before God: Is it getting to weekly Mass and catching up on days of obligation? Tithing and raising children in the faith? How much more is required?

Most Catholics have enough catechism to at least be aware of the obligations imposed by the corporal works of mercy, but do we treat them like items on a checklist or an invitation to a way of being? And beyond that attentiveness to good works, is even more demanded of us? This work for justice that seems so impossibly grand, is that part of the job, too?

A lot has been asked of you by baptism.

I’m not going to lie. A lot has been asked of you by baptism. You can find refuge in prayer and silence and celebration—and you should, lest you exhaust yourself—but in the end, yes, baptism demands more than an in-looking faith and pious practices that decline ownership or responsibility for the world. The challenges of these times—climate collapse, economic inequity and war—demand practical, not just spiritual, interventions.

But you can seek a way of being divine mercy in the world that still offers liberation from its sorrows. We could not succeed in this everyday priesthood if we did not accept it, graciously, with joy and hope.

Remember: This “burden” is light and we do not carry it alone.

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