Friends, today’s Gospel reports John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus.

One of the earliest descriptions of Baptism is vitae spiritualis ianua, which means “the door to the spiritual life.” To grasp the full meaning of this is to understand something really decisive about Christianity. 

For Christianity is not primarily about “becoming a good person” or “doing the right thing” or, in Flannery O’Connor’s famous phrase, “having a heart of gold.” Let’s face it: anyone—pagan, Muslim, Jew, nonbeliever—can be any of those things.

To be a Christian is to be grafted on to Christ and hence drawn into the very dynamics of the inner life of God. We become a member of his Mystical Body, sharing in his relationship to the Father. 

It is so important that we are baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” For Baptism draws us into the relationship between the Father and the Son, which is to say in the Holy Spirit. Baptism, therefore, is all about grace—our incorporation, through the power of God’s love, into God’s own life.

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