Immersed in Christ: May 25, 2020
Monday, Week Seven of Easter
The Responsorial (Psalm 68) invites us to celebrate what we know of God: “Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.”
Acts 19: 1-8 makes clear that God does not just want to give us divine life. He wants us to know we have received it. And he wants others to see it in us. This is the reason for the “gift of the Spirit.”
We would say today that those baptized by John the Baptizer received “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,” even though the true nature of this gift was not yet revealed and they had no idea what they had received. Paul asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” If he had asked instead, “Did you receive divine life when you were baptized?” their answer would have been the same: “We never even heard of it.” Unfortunately, many of the baptized today would say the same thing. How many are deeply, consciously aware of sharing in the divine life of God himself? It should make us want to genuflect to ourselves!
We may have learned this during our religious instruction — but as an abstract truth that didn’t sink in and didn’t really mystify or astound us. We probably didn’t connect it to our life or experience. The “gift of the Spirit” does.
We are aware of having received the “gift of the Spirit” when we experience things in ourselves — feelings, perhaps, but more reliably convictions, attitudes, values, and actions empowered by these — that have no human explanation; that can only be the fruit of God’s divine life within us. We may not “begin to speak with tongues and to prophesy” as Paul’s Christians did. But we will feel impelled to cry out in some way: “Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.” We know that we have become divine. And we rejoice.
In John 16: 29-33 Christ’s own disciples did not fully understand who he was. But when he answered a question they hadn’t asked, they said, “Now we see that you know everything, and do not have to wait for questions to be put into words. Because of this we believe that you came from God.” They still did not understand he was God, but at least they knew that nothing human could explain him. To speak and act in ways that let people see the same truth in us is the essence of Christian witness. We are consecrated to this by our baptismal anointing as prophets. When we do bear witness in this way, the “gift of the Spirit” becomes visible in us.
Our sharing in divine life is the key to Baptism. This is made explicit in the Presentation of Gifts. The presider prays as he pours a little water into the wine before presenting it to God:
By the mystery of [the mingling of] this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”
The wine represents divinity, the water humanity. We mingle them to remind us of the “mystery” of the human and divine united in Jesus by his Incarnation, and in us by our Baptism.
This reminder of what we are reminds us of what we should do. We need to let our divine life appear in actions that reveal the “gift of the Spirit” who empowers us to live on the level of God.
Initiative: Pay attention during the Presentation of Gifts. Absorb the meaning.