This week we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus got baptized. We all know that Jesus is sinless, and Baptism is for the remission of sin, but it’s for way more than that, too. Jesus allowed himself to be baptized as a model for us, and to change it from a symbolic act, to a Sacrament—one in which we are actually forgiven, we are claimed by Christ to belong to him forever, and it begins our relationship with God and God’s family.
The first reading in this Sunday’s liturgy from the Prophet Isaiah talks all about God’s call to his servant (Jesus). It is a call to justice and healing, teaching and victory. Jesus is our high priest, the one who accomplishes these things, and the one who passed that same mission down to us. We inherit it in our Baptism. Just as God called out to Jesus, God calls to our hearts—we are called to continue Jesus’ priestly mission. In fact, it says in the Baptism ritual that we are all called to be priest, prophet and king.
The tradition of anointing with oil dates back to the Hebrew’s earliest relationship with God. Anointing was the sign that a person had been chosen by God for a special role in the community. Those who were anointed were priests, prophets and kings. We are anointed at our Baptism, and then our Confirmation and once again for the MIB (men in black…priests) for this same purpose. We are all invited in our anointing to respond to God’s voice crying out to our hearts to be these things.
Now, obviously we are not all called to be priests the way Fr. Scott and Fr. Matthew are. I, for instance, am a girl and married, and so doubly not qualified to be that kind of a priest (and probably have lots of other qualities that make me unfit…). But, I can minister to the people in my life, pray for them, encourage them and help guide them. That is the priesthood that I (and most of us) am called to. In the Hebrew tradition, Prophets didn’t read crystal balls to tell the future—they looked at what was happening around them, and told the truth about where God was present and what God wanted from the community. We can speak in truth and in love—and when we do, we are speaking God’s words to those around us. We are prophets. By virtue of our Baptism, we inherit heaven with Christ—and so, we share in Christ’s kingship when we get to heaven.
So, while our Baptism was a one shot deal—not something you do twice in a lifetime—it is a life long Sacrament. As our lives unfold, so do the ways that God calls us to be the anointed, chosen people that we are. Every Easter we renew our Baptismal Promises because they were meant to be something that we’d grow into and learn to live more fully every day. Consider what your Baptism means to you—what God has called and continues to call you to. Consider how you will be priest, prophet and king throughout your life.