2003-01-12 The Baptism of Our Lord is one of the major “epiphanies...”
January 12, 2003
The Baptism of Our Lord is one of the major “epiphanies” by which He was declared our divine Saviour. The others are the Visitation of the Magi and the Miracle at Cana. Our parish is particularly fortunate to have the divine title of “Our Saviour” as its uncommon dedication. Christ saves all who call on Him, and our work is to call on Him ourselves and to move others to do the same. This work we do in various ways as we come into contact with people in the various kinds of work we do.
Christ did not have to be baptized. For that matter, He did not have to come into our world of time and space at all. God can be God without us. All He does for us is gratuitous and merciful. The ritual baptism He underwent was a symbolic washing away of the original sin of pride. Saint Maximus the Confessor reminds us that He shared our human nature in every way “except for sin, which was not part of our original human nature anyway.” That deft phrase contradicts the pessimistic puritans and the rampant hedonists alike, who think that corruption is normative. Christ was baptized to show us His divinity (“This is my Son…”) and also to show us that He would give the world a new kind of baptism that will actually, and not only symbolically, wash away sin.
We have an increasing number of baptisms in the parish. Indeed, we have an increasing number of confessions and Mass communicants as well. This is gratifying and must be only a start. Few parishes, and certainly none of our modest size, have the number of Masses and other sacraments we are privileged to offer. Besides the increasing hours for confession, we had well over sixty weddings last year. Preparation for marriage involves much instruction and legal work, and priority must be given to our own parishioners. While we welcome others, these celebrations of Holy Matrimony must be limited to the times available without restricting our normal parish schedule.
We have five Masses each weekday. The one regular Mass which has not grown is the 5:10 Mass on weekdays. Very few people attend at that hour. When this parish was founded, with a larger number of priests, evening Masses were not a custom at all. With the return of Father Chirayath to India, and given the law which normally forbids a priest from offering more than two Masses a day, it seems prudent to eliminate that scheduled Mass. The rest of the schedule, including Novenas and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, will continue as usual. Through a careful stewardship of time, I hope we may make good use of the resources of talent and location our parish enjoys between the East River and Hudson River to bring many more souls to the joy of our Lord who was revealed as the Son of God on the humble banks of the Jordan River.
Fr. George W. Rutler