Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter and Baptism

Last night in Churches around the world thousands were baptized at Easter Vigils. Today in many churches the blessing and sprinkling with water will replace the penitential rite, as a reminder of baptism which we never repeat. 

This gives us a chance to reflect on the connection. To understand it we have to go back to last night's first reading, Genesis 1. It tells us that man and woman were created with two unique gifts: the image and likeness to God. We often hear this phrase without much thought.

The image is what gives the sacredness to all human life. From conception to natural death it remains in every human being. The image can never be lost or destroyed even by sin. 

The likeness is different. When the first man and woman sinned they destroyed the likeness. From that moment on we are born with image but not likeness. 

But God so loved us that he wished to restore the likeness. He became visible, the visible image of the invisible God and he suffered and died to undo what Adam had done, to restore the likeness, to make us whole again. 

St. Paul tells the Romans
For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.

How do we experience a death like his?  In baptism. 

We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin

Christ who was like us in all things but sin, through the Holy Spirit, shares with us his likeness, the divine likeness. We are once again both the image and likeness of God. 

Today we recall not just the resurrection of Jesus but how it transformed humanity. Let us take time to appreciate the precious and delicate gift we received in baptism. Let us guard it like the treasure that it is. To borrow from the prayer in the rite of baptism say, May we walk always as Children of the Light.