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Monday, April 01, 2013

The Easter grace of Baptism

The grace of Easter applies today most intimately in the sacrament of Baptism, but many Christians postpone this grace unnecessarily. These were from the Office of Readings today:
  1. From Ex 14:15-15:1, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and, as day broke, the sea returned to its bed. The fleeing Egyptians marched right into it, and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the very middle of the sea. The returning waters overwhelmed the chariots and the horsemen of Pharaoh’s whole army, which had followed the Israelites into the sea; not a single one of them was left. But the sons of Israel had marched through the sea on dry ground, walls of water to right and to left of them. The passage across the sea, or the salvation of Noah and all aboard the Ark, have been cited Biblically and by Church Fathers as a clear type of Christian baptism: the waters that bring death and new life.
  2. From an antiphon today:
    O God, through the light of the New Testament you have revealed to us the meaning of the miracles you performed in the earliest times.
      The Red Sea was a symbol of the baptismal font,
      and the people freed from servitude prefigured the sacraments of the Christian people.
    Grant that all nations who have receive Israel’s privileges as a reward for their faith
      may be regenerated by sharing in your Spirit.
    Through Christ our Lord,
  3. From Ezekiel 36:16-28,  I am going to take you from among the nations and gather you together from all the foreign countries, and bring you home to your own land. I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols. I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you, and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances. You will live in the land which I gave your ancestors. You shall be my people and I will be your God.
  4. From Psalm 41(42), 
    Like a deer that longs for springs of water,
    so my soul longs for you, O God.
    My soul thirsts for God, the living God:
    when shall I come and stand before the face of God?
  5. From Romans 6:3-11,
    When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.
    If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection. We must realise that our former selves have been crucified with him to destroy this sinful body and to free us from the slavery of sin.
What a mighty gift, the Easter grace, that is being delayed and, in some cases, the opportunity is forever lost, through a horrible and quite recent misunderstanding of the doctrine! May God who wills to gather us all into his one family in a new life make us faithful to his most perfect and holy will!

Further reading; Infant baptism was already a practice in the second century AD.

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