13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a
Psalm 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19 (2a)
Romans 6:3-4, 8-11
June 28, 2020
We are Christians. We believe in Jesus. We need to take this seriously. Jesus himself tells us the we must love him more than our fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. Remember Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God. The second is to love our neighbor.
This might seem troubling. The fourth Commandment tells us to honor our parents. Jesus isn’t contradicting this commandment. He wants us to love our families. Jesus wants us to love everyone. Today He just reminds us that we must love him more than others.
He also tells us that we must take up our cross and follow him. If we wish to follow Jesus, we need to take it seriously. We need to be willing to suffer for the glory of God as Jesus suffered for us on the Cross.
Baptism is the first of the Sacraments we receive. It is in Baptism that we receive the “grace of adoption”, that we become “children of light” “that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error” (quotes from today’s Collect/Opening Prayer).
Paul writes to the Romans to help them realize that Baptism is a life-changing event. Do we see the effect that Baptism has on us?
Changed by Baptism, by faith in God, do we “sing the goodness of the Lord?” Do we speak of the good things the Lord has done for us? Do we share the gospel message?
In Baptism we use water as a sign of the new life we receive. We are anointed with the Sacred Chrism oil as we receive the Holy Spirit. We are dressed in white, symbolizing God cleansing us of sin, and we receive the Light of Christ through our baptismal candle.
In the rite of Baptism for children, there is an optional prayer called the Ephphatha prayer that says, “May the Lord Jesus, who made the deaf to hear and the mute to speak, grant you may soon receive his word with your ear and profess the faith with your lips, to the glory and praise of God the Father.”
These symbols help us know what is going on in Baptism but do we see how we are changed by Baptism.
It might be hard to realize that we are changed. As Catholics, most of us were baptized as infants. So, we don’t even remember our own baptism. Our parents were at our baptism but I doubt they would speak of seeing an immediate change in us. Depending on how young we were, we couldn’t even walk or talk.
That doesn’t mean we weren’t changed. Already born in flesh, at Baptism we are born of Spirit. The change happens not on the outside of our body but in our soul.
For those baptized as adults, it can be a powerful moment but we might still struggle to see how we are changed in that single moment. God has already been at work in us. God has begun the gift of faith in you as He called you to our Church. So, we may not perceive the change but think of the grace of the moment.
For any of us, regardless of the age when we were baptized, when you see another person baptized, does it not bring a warmness to your heart? I see that as joy we have for the one being baptized but also because our soul reflects on the grace of our own baptism.
We generally speak of Baptism as entry into new life. It is.
Yet, today Paul speaks of Baptism in terms of death. He says, “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”
Jesus died on the Cross so that “we too might live in newness of life.”
How do we die in Baptism?
We obviously don’t die physically.
We need to look at “death” and “life” as more than just terms expressing the state of our physical life.
“Death” is to be separated from something (loss).
“Life” is to be joined to that we are created for.
Sin is death because it separates us from God. The new life we receive in Baptism is the life we are created for, to spend eternity with God.
So, when Paul speaks of “death”, he speaks of the removal of sin and to die to our attachments to things in this world. It isn’t physical death in this world. It is letting go of our attachment to the earthly pleasures to put God first.
Of course, we continue to struggle with sin. When we fall short, we seek reconciliation with God by confessing our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In doing so, we ask God to restore what He began in us at Baptism. In the Eucharist, we are strengthened to live what we began in Baptism.
We thank God for grace He gives us in the Sacraments. We thank God for the blessings He bestows on us. We sing forever “the goodness of the Lord.”