THE BLESSING OF BAPTISM
At the end of a phone call with one of our children, I always hear my husband say, “God bless, bud.” “God bless, honey.” or the family favorite, “God bless, dude!” Throughout their lives, Mike has blessed our children before tucking them into bed, sending them out the door, or concluding a telephone conversation. They have known his blessing. He has never given or withheld his blessing based on behavior or performance. He blesses because they are our beloved children and their presence brings us great pleasure.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, we read that at the baptism of Jesus the “Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” The Father baptized and blessed before Jesus turned water into wine, spoke a word of wisdom from a mount, or took one step toward Golgotha. The Father blessed because Jesus was beloved. It was the blessing, the self-knowledge of beloved-ness, which strengthened Jesus for ministry.
With the Sacrament of Baptism, we hear the words of blessing: “Through baptism may this child become one of God’s own beloved sons and daughters.” Baptism blesses before a child can walk or talk. This blessing, given without merit, is a pure gift from our Creator, who claims each us as beloved—by our mere presence.
In Against An Infinite Horizon, Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, describes the power of blessing: “What we need, more than anything else, is to give bodily form to this blessing. We need, daily, within our families and within our relationships in general, to do things and says things that help those around us believe that life is good, that their lives are good, that they are good, and that we, and God, look on them with great pleasure and delight.”
On a human level, the blessing of a parent is necessary for a child to approach the world with faith and confidence. Being blessed—being loved for who we are—empowers us to live fully by sharing one’s gifts, talents, and charisms for the glory of God. Once blessed, a person becomes a blessing for others.
My dad, now deceased, blessed me to the end. Each time I prepared to leave his home, I approached his recliner and leaned over to receive his blessing of a kiss on the cheek and his words, “I love you.” Our boys, now all young adults, chuckle each time they hear, “God bless, dude.” Yet they realize they are beloved as they continue to receive the blessing of their father. Through Christ, each of us receives the Father's blessing. Now, that’s good news!
How have you blessed your children?
How will you be a blessing to others/
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.