Summary: Baptism is a healing of mind, body and spirit and the beginning of a lifetime of working out our salvation by adhering to the Law of Love.
Tuesday of 4th week in Lent
March 23, 2009
The Church’s forty-day preparation for Easter is, above all, a preparation of the whole Church to claim the inheritance earned by Christ through His passion, death and resurrection. Jesus lived, died and rose again so that we might have the Holy Spirit, a Spirit that makes it possible for us to live in union with God, now and into eternity.
But a special part of that preparation is our work of evangelization and education called the RCIA. Our catechumens are preparing for that great day they will first come into sacramental union with Christ and the Church. They are preparing for their baptism. So the Church gives us Scripture readings that help us understand their Baptism, and ours, because baptism is the same for all, a dying to sin and a rising to new life. Because our initiation into Christ has so many wonderful facets, each reading looks at Baptism from a little different perspective.
Baptism is a universal call and means to holiness. If you’ve ever made the journey from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, you see this immediately. The whole area is desert, and any drop of water that falls on that desert is immediately swallowed up by the volcanic sand and the sparse vegetation. Ezekiel sees the grace of God flowing from the Temple of God–which John shows us is the wounded Heart of Christ–in such abundance that it makes a vast river flowing into the Dead Sea and giving it life. It’s enough for all the human race, to make us holy and worthy to worship.
Baptism is a healing of mind, body and spirit. The man who was waiting at the pool didn’t have to wait for an angel to trouble the waters. The God-man Himself was there, the source of living waters, with a total healing. But Jesus adds to the healing. If we want to remain whole, after Baptism, we must put away our attachment to sin. There’s no “once-saved-always-saved” in this Gospel. We have to work out our salvation by adhering to the Law of Christ, the Law of love. And that means daily examination and repentance for our sins, and acceptance of Christ’s grace won at so high a cost, and available daily for us in this Eucharist.