Baptism and the Father of compassion

God so loved the world…
John 3: 16

 The Lord – compassionate and gracious…
Exodus 34: 6

 A few months ago, Pope Francis asked people if they knew the day of their baptism.

Today is the anniversary of my baptism, on June 15, 1947, in Saint Rafael’s Church in the Meadows in Philadelphia.

I don’t remember the day, obviously, but a few years ago I found and scanned several photos of that day.

Dad, Mom and me - baptism day

Dad, Mom and me – baptism day

That was the day that I was baptized in the name of the Trinity – experiencing the love and compassion of God in a special way.

The church at St. Raphael’s was on the first floor of a building which, if I’m not wrong, had a gym in the basement, and classrooms on the second floor. It has been torn down; the area is now the site of multiple airport hotels.

But, on the day my dad was buried, I found out something about the neighborhood of the Meadows that makes me proud to have been baptized there.

Catholics and Protestants and black Pentecostals, Christians and Jews, blacks and whites lived side by side in the Meadows. In the Catholic church’s gym there were basketball games that included Protestants and Catholics. My aunt would go to the local synagogue and turn off the lights after the Friday Sabbath prayer. My father would go to turn off the lights on Friday night for Jewish neighbors.

And this was the 1930s in Philadelphia.

So today I am grateful for being born in a community where people of different races and religions lived in a bit of harmony, being baptized into a Church that calls us to embrace all with the love of the God who loves the world so much that he sent his Son, and raised in a family by parents who sought to live a love that embraces others.

So is the love of God – Father and Mother to us – revealed to me on this Father’s Day.

 

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One response to “Baptism and the Father of compassion

  1. Beautiful memories, John. The world has changed so much; we have taken too many wrong turns and have listened to many ‘other’ untrue voices.

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