Today, January 8th, the Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord.
Luke 3: 21-22 “After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (NAB)
The Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan marks the beginning of Jesus’ public life.
In the journey of our sober life, the symbolism is clear. In ridding ourselves of our addictive practices, we embark upon a new life. A public life, so to speak. We are no longer “hidden”, in the sense that we are no longer considered useless or shunned because of the shame of our alcoholism. As in Baptism, in which we are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ and therefore “put on Christ”, in our sobriety we “put on” a new person, our sober selves.
In Baptism, we are cleansed of Original Sin. Satan no longer owns us. In recovery we are cleansed of our alcoholism. Alcohol no longer owns us. Although the effects of Original Sin remain after Baptism (concupiscence), because we now belong to Christ we have the weaponry needed to defeat Satan and his trickery. Just as in recovery the temptation to drink may remain with us long afterwards, we now have the tools needed to defeat the drink.
To that end, as Catholics we have the Sacraments. The opportunity to attend Mass, (which is the presentation again of the Last Supper when Jesus established the Eucharist and the continuation of the sacrifice of Calvary in unbloodied form), and the ability to pray the Mass is a tremendous blessing and grace that can strengthen our sobriety if we freely will it. By attending Mass, we are as if we are in the Upper Room with Jesus and the Twelve Apostles, and we are as if we are in attendance on Calvary, at the foot of the Cross.
Immersing ourselves in the sacramental life of the Church, by participating in Sunday Mass and daily Mass if possible, and frequent Confession (at least once a month), we strengthen ourselves against the need to drink. We shift our need to fill the “hole in our soul” with alcohol in which phenomenal “truths” are perceived, darkly and ill-remembered, to filling that hole with Jesus and His Church, in which Truth is realized.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
In the hour of my death, call me.
And bid me come to Thee.
That with Thy saints I may praise Thee.
Forever and ever. Amen