“Suit Up” By Rachael Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

The Baptism of the Lord

After today, Christmas is over. Did you even know that the Church was still celebrating the liturgical season of Christmas, or did you just assume your priest was too tired to take the Christmas trees and decorations down? The time table of when the culture celebrates Christmas is almost completely off from when the Church celebrates it. To the world (Macy’s, Hallmark, radio stations, etc.) the Christmas season seems to begin right after Halloween nowadays, and ends at midnight on December 25th, when the lights, Santas and anything saying “believe” or “peace” or “joy” immediately vanish, and red and pink heart shape candy boxes materialize in their place.

To the Church, the season of Christmas extends from Christmas Eve to the Baptism of Jesus (which this year, is January 12th). But I have to say, if so often feels like the world’s version of Christmas wins out! It hasn’t felt like Christmas to most of us after the presents have been torn into, the cookies have turned stale and tossed into the trash, and the hype and anticipation of parties have fizzled out, like the Alka-Seltzers we popped into our drinks after, eating too many sweets. For most of us – it’s back to the grind. School has returned in full swing – for many, midterms are looming. It means a very long stretch of work with no great holiday until Easter and spring break.

Sometimes around this moment in the year, I look back at Advent and Christmas and wish I could go back. Christmas is so magical, and our focus on the incarnation and birth of Jesus is radiantly beautiful. We have images of the Holy Family; a bright shining star in the night sky; the appearance of a multitude of angels singing praise; the nativity scene; gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We celebrate with feasts and parties, music and nostalgia!  But now at this time of year and especially as we head toward Lent, I want to go back to Christmas and hide under a blanket of the starry night sky filled with angels.

But that’s not what we are called to do. Today we celebrate when Jesus was baptized and the Spirit of God descended upon him like a dove. This marks the moment when Jesus went from being essentially a normal guy who worked as a carpenter and lived with his family – to astounding the world with signs and miracles from God, and a message that has resonated throughout two millenniums. For those of us who are also baptized, or will soon be baptized, this is the perfect moment to reflect on what God is calling us to do. And here’s a hint – it’s not just continuing to eat pie and party. It’s to accept the spiritual gifts God has given us through our Baptism, as well as the tools and the armor.

Baptism was the moment we received our spiritual “light saber” or our “lasso of truth” (or insert your own favorite super hero weapon – I personally like “vibranium shield”). In Confirmation we get an even greater outpouring of spiritual gifts.  Jesus’ Baptism is when he showed us that He was ready to enter the fight; and all the messy, heartbreaking, and difficult plot-points before him. And we’re called to do the same. So Christmas may be over, but there’s plenty to keep us inspired in living out our faith and our Baptismal call – so suit up!

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