As I read the weekend news today, I learned that Pope Francis baptized some 32 babies yesterday in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. That’s a lot of babies with accompanying crying and commotion! That’s a crowd for sure! It surprised me too that the Sistine Chapel was the venue. I’ve had the opportunity to walk through the Sistine Chapel three or four times in my life, but never experienced it as a real Chapel, a site for the baptism of a multitude of infants. Pope Francis is clearly being very creative as well as very actively pastoral. In Sunday’s homily, our pastor asked us if any of us knew the actual date of our own Baptism. He invited us to try to learn about it so we can mark the occasion and celebrate the day in our individual lives as Christians. I just happened to know mine — October 20th, exactly two weeks after my birth on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. It’s kind of fun to think about it since I was an infant and have no memory of the event. We are truly the recipient of our parents’ faith and passion for it! I look back and imagine the scene of my baptismal gathering. It’s our baptism which unites us and brings us into solidarity in the Body of Christ, the Church on earth. Baptism makes universal our experiences of God and Church and sacraments, promoting a sense of unity in our world-wide religion and belief system. Baptism is a common denominator for all of us who practice our faith and try to follow in discipleship in Jesus’ footsteps. It’s a beginning point for all, and a place of renewal at the start of another New Year. So let’s rise up refreshed and continue to live out our baptismal commitments in our day and place.