43 years ago, I was baptized into the Christian fold. It is interesting to note that I was baptized only one month after I was born. Such a monumental occasion is cause for celebration. Only recently did I learn that some celebrate this occasion as a baptismal birthday. Such a tradition is appropriate given this sacrament of initiation at which we become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following:
1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,” member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit. 1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification…” Furthermore, 1271 states “Baptism, therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.” (CCC 2nd Edition, USCCB, 3211 Fourth St, NE, Washington DC, 2019, 2020).
It is no wonder why such a sacrament is such an important milestone and why some celebrate the occasion as a “birthday” since we become a new creature per the reference to St. Paul’s epistle to Corinth.
We are reminded in the Gospel that Jesus, the light of the world, was also baptized. In Matthew’s gospel, John the Baptist says to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you, and you are coming to me?” Jesus in his reply says “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:14-15). Furthermore, this symbolic action by John the Baptist demonstrates Jesus’s mission of redemption to us as God’s son. Matthew describes the Holy Spirit coming down upon Jesus in the following manner: “After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming upon him.” (And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:16-17). Jesus did not need to be baptized, but did so for our benefit (https://www.catholic.com/qa/why-jesus-chose-to-be-baptized).
The upcoming Easter season reminds us of our baptism day where we renew our baptismal promises. It is a good time to reflect upon these promises made each year which are done on the Easter vigil. If we were infants, our parents and godparents made these promises. If baptized as older adults, these proclamations of faith were made. It’s a good time for all to reflect on these baptismal promises, and perhaps on our Christian birthday anniversary in which the introductory rite celebrant reminds us of the following at the rite of child baptism:
“Your families have experienced great joy at the birth of
and the Church shares your happiness.
Today this joy has brought you to the Church
to give thanks to God for the gift of your children
and to celebrate a new birth in the waters of Baptism.”
Let us recall these baptismal promises on the anniversary of our baptism and at the upcoming Easter vigil as a good reminder of who we are:
Do you renounce Satan? And all his works? And all his empty show?
Do you renounce sin,
so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?
Do you renounce the lure of evil,
so that sin may have no mastery over you?
Do you renounce Satan,
the author and prince of sin?
Do you believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead
and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?