This year the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism is not celebrated on a Sunday, due to Christmas and New Years being on a Sunday. The feast this year occurred on a Monday. I cannot let this important feast go by without some comments. Several years ago I gave a homily about a runner named Stefano Baldini. In the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta he finished dead last in the 10,000 meter race. As a matter of fact several runners in the race actually lapped him. While he was running the last mile, the times of the other runners were already being tabulated. Yet he ran the last mile in his quickest time. The announcer said: “Stefano Baldini’s time has been going down every mile.” When he finished the race the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
I tell this story because I believe there should be more stories about finishing a task in our culture. Go to any bookstore, and you will find countless self-help books about starting things: a diet, a business, a relationship, etc. Everyone wants to write about starting the journey. Yet do we find the strength to keep going when the journey is difficult?
The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of a great race for him. He was called to proclaim God’s unconditional love and mercy. This was no 100 meter race. Instead it would demand all the staying power of a marathon runner. He would have to deal with rejection, betrayal and eventual crucifixion.
As we look at our baptism we realize that what was required of Jesus is also required of us. Millions
are baptized and begin the journey, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. So many people find it easy to drop out when prayers aren’t answered as the journey becomes arduous. Staying power is vital. This Sunday we welcome six infants into our faith in the saving waters of baptism. We pray for the parents of these children. They are called to be the first and the best teachers in the ways of faith.
Fr. Bob Hawkins JANUARY 15, 2006