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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Making Real Our Promise

Monday, February 20, 2023

by Fr. David M. Knight

View Mass readings for today:

Editor's note: Father Knight had many talents. Unfortunately, computer file management was not one of those talents. Thus, I have so far been unable to locate Fr. Knight's reflections on the daily readings from today until Feb 22 (Ash Wednesday). Consequently, starting today, I will post selections from The Five Promises of Baptism on weekdays. (Full copies of the booklet are available here.) On Sundays, I will post reflections on the Mass readings -- if I can find those files! Pray for me! ~~ Lynne Marie

The price of enlightenment, however, is a commitment on our part to continue our journey into the light. From the beginning, Baptism was linked with discipleship. When Jesus sent his apostles out to baptize, he said to them:

Go...make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.11

In the preparation for Baptism, the commitment to discipleship is explicit. After the candidates declare they are asking God's Church for faith, the celebrant asks further: "What does faith give you?"

The candidates answer, "Eternal life!' Immediately the celebrant presents them with a copy of the Gospel, quoting the words of Jesus, "This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." He continues: If, then, you wish to become his disciples and members of his Church, you must be guided to the fullness of the truth that he has revealed to us. You must learn to make the mind of Christ your own. You must strive to pattern your life on the teachings of the Gospel and so to love the Lord your God and your neighbor. For this was Christ's command and he was its perfect example.

Is each of you ready to accept these teachings of the Gospel?12

When those being baptized answer, "Yes;' to this question, they are committing themselves to discipleship-to a lifelong study of the mind and heart of Christ through reflection on the Gospel.

This is to take seriously Christ's promise and invitation:

"I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father:'13

In an alternate version of this ceremony, candidates are told that they are entering into a "way," a "path," a "journey." Baptism is a commitment to seek progressive enlightenment.

You have followed God's light and the way of the Gospel now lies open before you. Set your feet firmly on that path Walk in the light of Christ and learn. This is the way of faith along which Christ will lead you in love toward eternal life. Are you prepared to begin this journey? 14

Immediately after Baptism, the new Christians are given a candle that has been lit from the Easter candle, symbol of Christ, and exhorted: "You have been enlightened by Christ. Walk always as children of the light... Christ's light is "a lamp to our feet and a light

to our path." Faith is a light to guide us, a light to move by, a light that gradually unfolds.15

The Christian life is an ongoing journey into the light. The journey continues until we are perfectly one with him who "dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen!" But we will see him, because "we are God's children [and] when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is."16

Until then, however, "the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day."17

This is a gradual transformation. When we were invited at Baptism to "present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God..." Saint Paul exhorted us at the same time: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God-what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12: 1-2).

Discipleship is an ongoing endeavor, a continuing transformation. It is a life­ long commitment to keep trying to grow into total union of mind and heart and will with God.18

11 Matthew 28:19. Michael G. Lawler writes in his article on "Marriage, Sacrament of" in The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship (Liturgical Press, 1990), page 809: "One of the most central affirmations of Christian faith is the affirmation of discipleship. Disciple is an ever­ present New Testament word, occurring some two hundred and fifty times throughout the Gospels and Acts, and always implying response to a call from the Lord. By definition disciples are learners, and the disciples of Christ are learners of mystery."

12 John 17:3 and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (Study Edition), Liturgy Training Publications, 1988, #52-C, page 23.

13 ]ohn 15:15.

14 Ibid, #52-A, pages 22-23.

15 Ibid, #230, page 144; Psalm 119:105.

16 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 3:2.

17 Proverbs 4:18.

18 Most people, when asked what a "disciple" is, will answer, "A follower of Jesus." But the truth is that the word "disciple" does not mean "follower." It means "student." We are only disciples of Jesus as long as we are students of his. If we stop trying to learn from him, we cease to be disciples. And since there is no "graduation" until we die, when we stop being students of his, we are "dropouts." That is a major problem in Christianity. The world is full of Christians who go to church but who, in terms of discipleship, have dropped out as students.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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