Sr. Edith Prendergast is the Director of Religious Education for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. A popular speaker and workshop presenter at conferences, she holds a doctorate in ministry from the Claremont School of Theology and a master’s degree in theology from Boston College.
As we celebrate Jesus’ baptism this month, we asked Sr. Edith to share with us her thoughts on living out our own baptismal commitment.
I had the privilege recently to participate in an inspiring celebration of new life for baby Colette. It was her baptism day. As family and friends gathered in the Cathedral of Our Lady, Los Angeles, I was drawn to reflect on the spectacular tapestry that hangs behind the baptismal font depicting the baptism of Jesus.
In this striking setting, we celebrated Colette’s initiation into the community of faith as she was immersed in the waters of life. Two traditions—Jesus’ baptism and now Colette’s—converged, separated only by time and yet revealing many similarities.
The blessings of baptism
It was an awesome moment as the parents and godparents embarked upon a journey of passing on the richness of our faith story. Similarly, it was a remembrance of Jesus’ “yes” to his salvific mission as freedom-giver, healer, and bearer of light.
But the story doesn’t end there, because after his resurrection, Christ entrusted his salvific mission to the disciples and commissioned them: “Go, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Washed in the waters of baptism, we too are sent on mission. Colette’s celebration calls to mind the gift, the blessing, and the commitment this special ritual holds for each of us. Plunged in the waters of redemption, we are brought into communion with God and initiated into the community of faith. Liberated from sin, our hearts are etched with a new identity: we are named beloved sons and daughters in Christ.
Be renewed and transformed
Faced with the radical demands of our baptism—of being other Christs—we reach out to be bearers of justice, of peace, and of forgiveness. We become eyes of wisdom and integrity where dreams for a better world can be imagined and realized.
As witnesses, we are called to live a life of discipleship and beckoned to take the inward journey to discover God at the center of our lives and of all that we hope to become. But we are also aware of our need for renewal and transformation.
Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch-Jewish woman, wrote: “There is a really deep well inside of each of us. And in it God dwells. Sometimes I am there too. But more often stones and grit block the well and God is buried beneath. Then God must be dug out again.”
Naming those things that block the flow of life is crucial. Letting them go, we become more authentic witnesses to God’s extravagant love coursing through us, not only for ourselves but for the transformation and communion of the whole world.