In baptism we share in the hope of life eternal

I have to confess to experiencing a very difficult week in the hospital as I witnessed the death of three infants.

I have to confess to experiencing a very difficult week in the hospital as I witnessed the death of three infants.

It’s very frustrating encountering the heartbreak of parents and their families because you feel helpless and useless. In the normal cycle of life we expect children to bury their parents not parents having to bury their children. In the face of so much pain and grief words are very inadequate. At some level we would love to be able to take their pain away to heal and mend their broken hearts. In the midst of all the sorrow parents don’t want to hear clichés or phrases which seem to suggest what they have suffered should somehow make sense. It’s in these moments we witness first-hand the preciousness of life and how the birth of a child should be accompanied with great joy and rejoicing.

For weeks we have been celebrating the birth of a child, for when Jesus Christ entered our human condition an eternity of possibilities open up for those who trust in the Son of God. As I watched all the decorations being packed away for another year everything seemed flat and the house looked bare and empty. It was as if Christmas had never been, as if the Christ child had never been born. The emptiness of these days provides an opportunity to look back at our celebrations and ask what it was all about? After all the eating, drinking and partying, what did our celebrations say about who we believe Jesus Christ to be? Was this just a season to be merry and over indulge, with a vague notion of spending time with family and giving presents? Or did we allow the spirit of Christmas to lift our hearts because God, in the face of a child, revealed his great love. When Christ comes among us something new and extraordinary happens, all of human experience becomes drawn into the life of God.

Every human person, no matter their age, no matter how long they have journeyed in this world, every woman, man and child now shares in an eternal destiny. God has ventured into the ordinariness of our lives to free his people from all that binds and enslaves them. Hope is central to our experience of Christmas because Jesus, the light of the world, was born to overcome all which darkens and threatens to overshadow God’s people. The greatest gift we can provide for our children is entry into the loving promises God has made to his people. In baptism we share not only the dignity of being adopted as God’s children, we share in the possibility of life eternal, of sharing in the Father’s love which refuses to let any of his children die. In baptism the Spirit dwells in our hearts and as God makes his home in us we’re challenged to reflect in our lives the love of God. We’re asked to reach out to those suffering and to be a light shining in the darkness by setting captives free through our compassion and forgiveness.