Baptisms on the Feast of the Transfiguration

At his transfiguration, God said of Jesus, "This is my Son, my beloved. Listen to him." In saying this, God repeats what God said at Jesus' baptism, "You are my Son, in you I am well pleased." In both instances, God is calling attention to Jesus. At the baptism, he is calling to Jesus' attention that he is the redeeming Son of God, and so calling Jesus to the vocation and life which he is to live. On the mountaintop, he is calling the attention of Jesus' followers to who Jesus really is. "This is my Son. Pay attention to him." Jesus is to be the redeemer. That is who God called him to be, from the time of his baptism, and now declares again on the mountain, so that his disciples, and we, may know who to follow.

And now we have a baptism here today. We have more children of God being named and called, and we ourselves are renewing our own promises to follow Jesus and live out the salvation we have been called to in Jesus. The wonderful thing declared in Jesus is declared here today in these three children and in us. They are certainly new--and wonderful-- things being declared today.

Still, the burden of this wonder seems too much for such small persons to bear. But they are not alone in joining Jesus in this promise of wonder. We who are baptized meet them here in Jesus, and Jesus meets us along with all who have ever been baptized in Jesus or ever will be. We join generations of ancestors, those recently dead, those long dead, and generations to come.

And these three have sponsors and parents who promise to help them fulfill the promises. In them we all renounce evil and pledge to see to it that the big people, the adults they are to be, become big for doing good, brothers and sisters in Christ for all of us, and big for justice, peace and well-being for everyone.

So today God says to these little ones, "I know you. I have called you by name. I have chosen you from before you were born. You are my sons and daughters, in you I am well pleased." God has something in mind for them. We don't yet know what it is, but we know this much, that God has called them into being and called them to Godself in Christ. As God proclaimed Jesus the Son, so you-and all of us-proclaim today that these three belong to Christ, just as we do. As a result we look at them in a new way, we look for the life of Jesus in them, because this baptism puts that life there in a tangible way, it fulfills the potential of divine life with which they were created. And we must help the life of Jesus emerge in their lives more and more. We choose this for them, as God chose Jesus.

This is the first of many choices you will make for your children as they grow up, of many choices you will help them to make as they grow up even more, choices that will bring them at last to full-grown humanity in Christ. We do not know what that humanity will be like, but we do know that God is calling them to personal involvement with God's own self. This personal involvement in prayer and wisdom, in love of God, love of you and of us and all humans, they will learn from you.

You will teach them many things, some of them seemingly trivial. You will teach them to tie their shoes and cut their meat, to use a knife and a fork. But you will also teach them kindness and courtesy, gentleness and honesty. And as you teach them these things, so they can live fully in the world to which God has called them, you will teach them to live in the life of the Church to which God has called them. They will learn to say their prayers and read their Bibles. They will come to be fed and healed in the Sacraments and hear the Word of God proclaimed to God's people.

We also know that in calling them to all this, God is also calling them to make the world a better place, to the best of their ability. The world is not in great shape. We all know the story of the Fall, how by a wrong choice, humankind fell apart from their fullest participation in each other and in God. We are broken apart from each other, separated by our common fall, and each of our wrong choices and acts. These wrongs keep us apart. Our world has gone all to pieces. All of the pieces contain a part of the unity God created, and each of the pieces is necessary to the whole.

It was for this unity that Jesus was born and baptized, and why today he appeared transfigured to his disciples. He came that he might repair the broken world, to rejoin each and all of us in himself to God and to each other. If we remain in him, we do rejoin each other, and if we all do, then the whole world is being repaired. This is what he is calling them to today. Today we join them to Christ. We restore an absolutely necessary part to a redeemed world. The world would not be right without these three; otherwise, God would not have made them. So today, we bring them into the unity God intended, and we promise to teach them to restore and build up what is broken, and to restore themselves to God when they break away from the unity.

In these three today, this unity takes human flesh, takes concrete form in specific new persons. We plant a seed in them today. This seed will grow in secret, and someday we will have three full-grown sisters and brothers in Christ. You, parents, family, and sponsors, will see the first fruits, and help her to share them with all of us.

This is a glorious sign of hope to us. We are greatly encouraged, encouraged to nurture them, and Jesus in them. We are encouraged to nurture our own commitment to Jesus, to know love and serve him, as you will know, love and serve them.

As Jesus was proclaimed God's beloved Son in whom God is well pleased, so today these three are beloved daughters and sons in whom you, and all of us, are well pleased.