Saturday, September 14, 2013

To Moses Emmanuel, As You Are Baptized

I'm writing you this note on your baptismal day, Moses. Someday, your mom and dad can read it to you; in time, you'll be able to read it to yourself. And I hope you will read it once in a while, especially when this day rolls around every year. It's a very special day, for you and for me.

Moses Saved from the Water, Raphael (1518-19)
For you, of course, it's your second birthday—the day you're born again and marked with the sign of a new spiritual life, the life of Jesus. You belonged to Him before, but now you belong
to Him in a very particular way. In fact, you now have His own life inside you, and He will always be with you. I hope you get to know Jesus very well.

It’s a special day for me, too, because I have the honor of being your godfather. This is no small thing, to be a godfather. It's hard enough to be a human father, and I'm still learning to do that. Your own dad will tell you it's difficult, and you never quite know if you're getting it right—but that's OK, and we love getting up and trying to get it right every day.

But being a godfather is a bit different because I'm an outsider. Your mom and dad and God loved you into existence, and they've been loving you ever since. That love will sustain you as you grow—day in, day out, every day, every hour, every second. And, like God, your mom and dad will be with you everywhere, and their thoughts will never drift far away from you. That's the way moms and dads are.

Godparents are like that, but not so much. I have my own family, and they keep me pretty busy, so I won't be part of your everyday life. Certainly I’ll be praying for you daily, and I hope I will see you a lot, but most of your growing up will happen when I’m not around.

Still, I have a part to play, and your mom and dad have entrusted me with a tremendous responsibility: To help you as you make your way on the road of faith. In a sense, I’ll be walking alongside you on that road, offering guidance and assistance when necessary, and always encouragement and spiritual support.
The Baptism of Christ, del Verrocchio and da Vinci (ca. 1475)

To do all that requires, first of all, that I be making some progress on that road myself—something I should be doing anyway, and something your mom and dad apparently assume I'm doing, or else they wouldn't have given me this job!  In any case, becoming your godfather makes me want to do it more and better. With God’s help, I will.

And with God’s help, we’ll both grow closer to Jesus—a funny idea, if you think about it, because now that you’re baptized, He lives in you just like He lives in me. How much closer can we get to Him?

I’m still figuring it out, dear godson, but I’m finding it’s a lot like a tree, or an ocean, or the sky. Next time it's a clear night, go out with your dad and look at the stars. No matter how often you do it, you see something new, don't you? And the sky is around us all the time, pretty much unchanging. We're the ones who change as we grow, and we see more.

Jesus won't change as He settles in our souls, but we will. We'll see more, hopefully every day. That's my prayer for you. Please pray the same for me.

A version of this story appeared on, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.