On Jan. 9, the Sunday following Epiphany, the church celebrates the feast of the baptism of the Lord.
The baptism of the Lord recalls the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Originally this event was celebrated as part of Epiphany, which memorialized the coming of the Magi, the baptism of Christ and the wedding at Cana. Over time in the West, however, the baptism of the Lord came to be commemorated as a distinct feast.
The feast marks the last day of the liturgical season of Christmas. On the following day, the season of ordinary time begins.
The baptism of Christ instituted the sacrament of baptism, and serves as an example for all of us, who are in need of it for the remission of sin. The Gospel accounts of the event describe the immersion of Christ in the water, the visible descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and the audible voice of the Father proclaiming that Jesus was God’s son, in whom God was well-pleased. In this way, the Blessed Trinity was manifested to the people of God.
The feast provides a great opportunity for families to recall their own baptisms. This feast might be a good time to remind children of the exact date, location and circumstances of their own baptisms. It could be a good chance to talk about who their godparents are and why they were chosen for this role.
Reviewing photos or videos might help to set the event in context for children who were too young to remember what happened. Showing children their baptism candles and certificates could help express how important this event is in a person’s spiritual life.
At Mass on this Sunday, parents can make a point to bless their children with holy water, in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.