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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

by Fr. David M. Knight

May 3, 2024

Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

Lectionary No. 561

1 Cor 15:1-8/Jn 14:6-14


The Responsorial (Psalm 19) predicts: “Their message goes out to all the earth.” But how do we present it? We tell children, as Ananias told Paul, that sins are “washed away” in Baptism. Not a threatening image. But is it possible to explain how Baptism takes away sin without speaking of death?

In 1Corinthians 15:1-8 Paul says, “Christ died for our sins… was buried, and raised...” Peter also says, Christ “suffered for” our sins…” There is nothing threatening about Christ suffering and dying for us. That is extrinsic to us. But when Paul explains the mystery more deeply, he says that in Baptism we ourselves have to die.” All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. Therefore, we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead… we too might walk in newness of life.

Paul says our “old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed… For whoever has died is freed from sin.”(Acts 22:16; 1Peter 3:18; Romans 6:3-7)

We usually don’t tell children that in Baptism we ourselves have to die. We take the mystery out of Baptism. This makes “walk in newness of life” just an exhortation to good human behavior. It also leaves us with the impression our sins were only “forgiven,” not “taken away.” Being forgiven does not change us; dying and rising again does.

This “dumbs down” the whole mystery of Christian identity. We miss the reality of Paul’s conclusions: “In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free” and “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” These are intrinsic changes in us that no extrinsic “payment for sin” can produce. It is only because we died in Christ and rose in him that Paul can say, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view…If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation….” (2Corinthians 5:16-17)

In John 14:6-14 when Jesus “knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father,” he spoke about the mystery of believing in him:

If you know me, you will know my Father also… I am in the Father and the Father is in me…. the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these… I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever…. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

Peter urged Baptism, not just so that our “sins may be forgiven.” but also so that we may “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” We die and rise in Christ to live a new life; one visibly divine. If the Spirit empowers us to know and act as only God can, this bears witness to the living presence of Jesus in us, who rose out of the waters of Baptism as his body risen from the grave. True witnesses live on the level of God. (Acts 2:38)

Initiative: Live a new life by the power of the Spirit. Go beyond being human.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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