Blog # 246 Baptism LIVED
Here in Georgia May is the season for graduations, from pre-school through high school, College and graduate studies in the Universitiess. For the person walking off the stage with a degree in chemical engineering it is presumed he or she will be seeking a career in chemical engineering. We presume a person achieving an MD degree will be working in medicine. The whole life of these people is affected by their training and the endorsement of a degree. Our Catholic theology of Baptism presumes a similar experience for someone on the occasion of his or her Baptism. Following the lead of the Bible we see in Baptism a 'second birth' (Jn 3:3 f), the identity of a 'new creation' (2 Cor 5: 17) identified as a'Temple' of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:13), a member in the Body of Christ, the Church (1 Cor 12: 27, a dwelling place of the Father and Jesus (Jn 14: 23).
By faith we see in Baptism an experience parallel to that of the reception of a scholastic degree Isn't it fitting that we should expect significant differences in the life of a person before and after Baptism? Would you feel comfortable coming up with an answer if someone asked you what these differances might be?
A wedding ring in the jewelry store window and on the finger of a newly married bride is the same physical reality, with the same amount and quality of gold, the same stone, the same size before and after the wedding. But after the wedding it is a 'new creation' with a new identity and value as a reminder and expression of the love of a husband and wife. It is similar with Baptism and the effects of Baptism. An Irishman is still and Irishman, a baby Baptized exactly three weeks old is exactly three weeks and a day the day following his or her Baptism. But in every case there are permanent practical comprehensive invisible spiritual supernatural differences, priviledges rights and responsibilities that have been identified in our Catholic theology of Baptism. If we do not know them and keep ourselves aware of them in our daily experience of life they stand to be wasted.
Fourteen years ago when I was assigned to St. William Church in Sandersville, GA I had no idea that I would ever be here in Augusta writing blogs. Yet a week ago when I was looking over some notes and parish bulletins from St. William in preparing a homily for Good Shepherd Sunday the idea came to me to use some of the text that was printed in one of the
parish bulletins. We had the Baptism of a baby during our Sunday liturgy that day. I thought that was a good occasion to check up on how much awareness we had of our Catholic theology of Baptism and how much effect this was having in our daily experience of life. Something like asking whether we were merely wearing a 'nice ring' or a 'wedding ring'.
As usual, adults grow in knowledge and keep themselves aware of things in response to our having questions. So, do we have any questions about Baptism? Here are a few suggestions. How often and what do we think of in regard to the fact we are Baptized? Does the fact we are Baptized have any real conscious effect our daily experience of ourelves, our family, and our life in general? Do we ever pray in thanksgiving for our own Baptism? Are there any reminders in our life that call to mind the fact we are Baptized? Can we remember the most recent time we had a conversation with someone about Baptism? And how that conversation went? Do we sense any desire and urgency within ourselves that all people be Baptized? Why do we think this is so, no not so?
These are perhaps strange and difficult questions. But if we address them sincerely and courageously we will surely be blessed. There are even more! Do we see any connection between the questrion so often asked by our Baptist friends: "Are you saved?", and Baptism? Could we give an explanation that satisfies ourselves with regard to the justfiication of our Catholic practice of Baptizing infants? Did you ever think of celebrating the anniversary of your Baptism in addition to or instead of the date of your natural birth?
Interesting questions! The answers are interesting too. I am plannng to spend some time with them this next week in preparation for the Feast of Pentecost. Could that be a good idea for you? May the Lord bless us!