My estimate is that more than three quarters of the baptisms in the US are not done because of commitment to Christ and the church, but rather out of fear of original sin, which is proof to me that the church is still living in the context of a Jansenistic piety of the 1700s. We did such a good job of promoting the purification from original sin, that the real major theology of baptism and evangelization is far from the thoughts and heart of the people. This is a very sad state of affairs. Baptismal prep classes are all still based on this original sin proposition.

Jesus is baptized for mission. Baptism is the first step of admission, the entry point, the beginning of the Christian life, which is always oriented toward God and the other. It is not about oneself. It follows the well worn processor John Cassian’s three fold way: purification, illumination, and union, which is also the essence of the kerygma. The homily this week offers and opportunity to change all of that.

In Matthew’s account, the voice from heaven addresses the crowd. In Mark and Luke, the voice addresses Jesus personally; in John’s gospel, the Baptism only recounts the incident to the crowds, and there is no mention of the voice from heaven. The descending dove appears in all the gospels. Have you heard this voice from? Do you have a vision of the reign of God? What is the level of purity and holiness in your life? What are you doing to promote the evangelization of the world?

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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