Immersed in Christ: April 22, 2020
Wednesday, Second Week of Easter
In Acts 5: 17-26 God delivered the Apostles from prison the way Jesus was delivered from the tomb. The temple police reported, “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” When Jesus rose, those who went to the tomb found it likewise empty. And no explanation.
By Baptism we were freed from the prison of this world’s limits and the tomb of its death. We went down into the water of Baptism as into the grave. When we rose out of that water, those who looked for the “old self” we used to be simply did not find us. Our “old self” was “crucified with Jesus so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.” We “were taught to put away our former way of life,” our “old self with its practices,” to be “renewed in the spirit of our minds” and to “clothe ourselves with the new self which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator” and “created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
We need to be conscious of this when we present ourselves to be placed on the altar under the symbols of bread and wine. We are accepting to step out of the prison of our culture’s darkness. To be free of its myopic attitudes and intramundane values. To embrace the “new self” that was given to us at Baptism and which is growing — gradually — “until all of us come to... the knowledge of the Son of God...” and the Father brings the “image of his Son to perfection within us.” The Presentation of Gifts is a commitment to ongoing conversion. 1
John 3: 16-21 warns us that something in us may “prefer darkness to light.” Not just because our “works are evil” and we don’t want that fact exposed, even to ourselves. But also because prison protects us from challenge. To be locked into the laws and practices of “religion” with such a walled-in vision that nothing gets past them is to escape the unknown of conscious interaction and personal relationship with God. We focus so narrowly on what we do that no who even enters the equation. John says God sent his Son so that “the world might be saved through him” and “whoever believes in him will not be condemned.” Unless our faith lets us know Jesus as a person, and our hope is to grow in intimacy with him until we love him passionately, we are “condemned” to the half-life of the Pharisees. This is the way, not of life but of the living dead. We may be alive by grace, but barely.
The “way of life” is the way of those hungry to know and do more; to chart their course by the “single star” of Jesus; to sail by the “wild winds” of the Spirit, “withersoever they blow.” It is the freedom of “nothing left to lose,” because all has been given for All. The Responsorial (Psalm 34) assures those who leave their measurable prison: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.”
Initiative: Give up security. Trust God calling you into the unknown.
1 Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:13, 22-24; Colossians 3:9-10; Preface I for Lent.. View Today's Readings Here