Year C: 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: based on St Paul’s letter to the Colossians 2: 12-14
Yet another reminder of the great things that Jesus has done for us - and a reminder of the power of our Baptism.
St Paul pulls no punches - before baptism, we were dead - Baptism was our burial into Christ and through Baptism, we have been raised up to new life in Christ.
The reason the Colossians were dead, he explains, was because of sin - and Baptism freed them from that sin. any debt that should have had to be paid has been cancelled because Jesus nailed it to the cross.
Because our experience of Baptism is the baptising of babies, we often lose sight of this aspect of Baptism. We look at the little one, usually clothed in white, and wonder how anyone could think they had done anything to be forgiven for. They haven’t - but, like every human being that has walked the earth, they have a predisposition to prefer material satisfaction to the spiritual. This tendency is part of the idea of “Original Sin” - for which Baptism holds the key to forgiveness.
This doctrine was not developed until long after St Paul was writing. For him, Baptism was largely received by adults who would have known the full joy of being liberated from sin. Being thus forgiven, they would indeed have felt reborn - like a new creation.
For them, Baptism was not something to take lightly. Alongside the joy of forgiveness of sin and being made new, there was the very real possibility of persecution. The preparation for Baptism would take on average 3 years to ensure that the new Christian understood the commitment that they were taking on.
They also learnt what it meant to be part of a Christian community - a community often under threat where mutual love and support were vital.
Writing to such a community, St Paul could use tough words that spoke of the deeply powerful nature of Baptism as the transformation of one who was dead into one who was alive.
What does it mean for me?
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