“Love is not a bottle of Coca-Cola.”
If I have a bottle of Coke, and then I share half of it with you, then I am left with half a Coke.
But love is not a bottle of Coke. If I share my love with you, I am no less empty of love than when I started. In fact, love is one of those things that actually grows when it is shared – it’s a paradox.
Today, as we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we enter back into “Ordinary Time.” We also enter what the Church has recently begun referring to as “Vocations Awareness Week.” Here, in His baptism, Jesus’ public ministry begins, and we are called to become more aware of our own vocations – our missions in life.
But what is the greatest vocation? Which is the most important? I am sure you expect that my response to that would be, “It depends.” However, there is a definite, Church-sanctioned answer to that question. So, which is the most important vocation?
As today we recall the event of Jesus’ baptism, it is helpful, first, to consider our own. Often, Baptism is seen as a quaint rite of passage for a baby or child – yet another moment of celebration that we attach to the births of our children. However, it is so much more than that. What Baptism imparts is the precious gift of Eternal Life; it all begins here for us. It does not start at our death, as people often will say, “She has now entered into eternal life.” No! She entered eternal life when she was baptized! Each one of us here who have been baptized are, right now, living out our eternal lives.
I’ll let that thought sink in.
So, here we are, living our eternal lives because of our baptisms. Since that destiny is now eternal, there is now a call that goes along with that life – a vocation – the most important vocation, in fact.
The Church teaches that we are each called by God to holiness by virtue of our baptism. And this is our shared vocation: Holiness. We call this the “Universal Call to Holiness,” and we are charged with being signs of God’s holiness in our world. Through our baptism – whether we were dunked, dipped or dribbled – we are conformed to Christ, incorporated into His Body, the Church, and washed of our sins, so that we can fully embrace that destiny.
All our other vocations flow from this initial call – be we called to marriage, consecrated life, ordination or single life. First comes Baptism.
Let me get back to that bottle of Coke – or rather, the love that is not like it. If I pour out my Coke, I am necessarily left with less. Not so, however, with my love – which itself is a reflection of God’s love. When I love fully, I am fully charged with that Love. In our lives, when we give of ourselves – which is a great analogy for any vocation – we are, in turn, filled with life. Thus, “Giving Life is Life-Giving.”
In the following weekends, we will be sharing in our homilies reflections on the various vocations that we can live our in response to God’s call to give life. Next week, we will discuss Matrimony; then the call to service as a Deacon; at the start of February we will share about the call of Consecrated Life; and we will wrap up the series with the call to Priesthood. I hope you can join us and bring family and friends, since this should be an enlightening series for us all.
As Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, He was not washed of sins as we are in Baptism. However, He is recognized for Who He truly is – Who God calls Him to be: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”
We, too, have been recognized by God. Our call to holiness now drives us to give of ourselves in a special way that does not deplete us, but rather helps us to be the persons whom God intends us to be. So we reflect on this first vocation of ours – our shared vocation to be people of holiness, reflecting the very holiness of God the Father to others in our world
Long ago (or not so long ago, as the case may be), we entered those waters of Baptism, where we died to sin with Christ and rose with Him to eternal life. Now, our call is to a life of holiness, made possible by the grace of God. Each time we dip our finger into that holy water font, we should be reminded of that fact. We are all God’s beloved children, with whom He is well pleased!