I am so happy that several young people in the parish recently expressed to us their desire to enter the Catholic Church. They desire to be baptized.  I can see how excited they are to start their preparations for the sacrament that will make them part of the Church.
The Gospel conveys the same excitement as Jesus eagerly approaches his cousin John to partake of the ritual bath John was performing for the people. A short argument ensued as John felt unworthy to baptize his Lord, while Jesus assured him that this rite was a passage he must undergo to fulfill the Father’s will.
The young people I met have decided to seek baptism.  The Lord Jesus too, sought baptism on his own. This shows an aspect of baptism that is very important – that baptism is a choice. When those who have reached the age of reason ask for baptism, they freely choose the sacrament, with its conditions and demands. There is free choice in following the Lord.
Most of us Catholics are called “cradle Catholics,” since we have been baptized as infants.  How are we to know then what was happening?  Our parents and godparents stood as proxies, celebrating the sacrament on our behalf. Most of us know only of our baptism by the memories in our photo albums.
Today’s feast reminds us that something important happens to us when we receive baptism, even as infants:  We are chosen! And even adult converts cannot desire the grace of conversion unless God chooses them first.
But this is even more pronounced in the case of infant baptism. The children are chosen by a Father who loves… guided by a hand that truly cares.
Chosen – this is what we are. It’s great to remember this. When we were helpless and useless and weakest, God loved us and cared for us first.  The first reading says: this is my servant, my chosen one! (Is. 42:1). The Gospel recounts the Father’s words to Jesus: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
(Mt. 3:17).
There come moments when both young and old feel unimportant, or neglected, forgotten or unloved. People will gloss over our good deeds and fail to appreciate our what we have done. In those moments, it pays to hang on to the meaning of our real identity. We are Christians; we are Catholics; we are chosen by God to be his sons and daughters in this world!
Be full of joy today.  Face the world with courage and confidence. Someone loves you and believes in you. You are chosen!