April 29, 2018
The first moment in which the sinless Son of God embraced the world (a la John 3:16) where something had gone terribly wrong was the Incarnation. But that was a moment known only to God, Mary and the Angel Gabriel – it was real, but unknown. On the other hand, the moment of Jesus’ baptism was clearly one in which took his stand amongst sinners and committed himself to live the same kind of life that the need to live in order to escape sins and death. The acid test of this commitment was the cross. There he was condemned, though innocent and died, though immortal, to rise again as the glorious transformer of a world gone wrong.
In our own baptisms, we join ourselves to Christ – not in his Baptism, but in the mystery of his cross which is foreshadowed in that event. Our baptism is by way of a mirror image of his cross. There we become one with him who dies in order to live again, one with him who accepted the fate of sinners so that we may come to share the life of the sinless Son of God. This is why Holy Week/Easter , rather than the feast of the Baptism which is celebrated in January, is the perfect time for Baptism and renewal of baptismal promises.
It is also the reason why Lent became the preferred season for the reconciliation of sinners and the performance of penances related to our willingness to join Christ in his sinlessness in this life so that we may come to share his immortal life in our personal easter, our resurrection.
Less you have missed what is happening here – the existential sign – Jesus’ Baptism -- that points to a spiritual reality – his death and rising. Our own baptisms include us in that mystery and explain and express our lives as disciples.
Saint Ambrose said it best: the events of Christ’s life have passed over into the sacraments of the church; there, they become the moments in which we discover the innermost reality of own lives. We are constantly backing and forth-ing between sacraments and life – our sacraments and his life and our sacraments and our life.
This is a theme for study that we can never exhaust. We are like the monster fish who imagines that he has consumed the ocean that actually embraces him and holds him up. We are always immersed in that which is
the innermost of us. We are always taking our place with Christ who has taken his place with us. His past is our future and our future is his ever-present past.
Really and truly and fishily yours,