Thursday, February 19, 2015

Baptism: A Big Responsibility

First Sunday of Lent

This Sunday, the second reading will be from 1 Peter 3:18-22, I’d encourage you to read the rest of the readings.

The new covenant in Christ’s blood, of which we are partakers, is prefigured in great detail in the Old Testament.

The flood, Peter says, prefigured Baptism.

By coincidence, I happen to have recently had a lengthy discussion with Daniel about what Baptism is, and what is its function in the Christian life. (See the CCC 1214-1284, for its treatment on Baptism.) (Yes, we know. We’re both nerds who love the Lord.)

Peter says that Baptism is an appeal to God for a clear conscience. My Bible notes that the word “appeal” could also be translated “pledge”, which I think adds an important dimension of meaning to the passage.

If we are not baptized as infants, we also make a commitment when we get baptized, a pledge to live in accord with the precepts of the Gospel. It is expected that those baptized (or their parents, for infants baptized in the church) will do what is in their power to assist that faith to grow and develop into a more complete and mature faith.

For those of us who are parents, this is a very big and weighty undertaking, and very humbling when we realize the full scope of the task:
You mean I have to teach her everything in the textbook?
 And the Cliff Notes
But I haven’t even finished reading them myself!

There have been two thousand years of family history and development in our understanding of Christian doctrine.

We can’t hope to cover it all even once, so how do we make this look possible?

Three things come to mind:
(1) You can’t do it alone, and you aren’t doing it alone.
You have your spouse, and the godparents to help and support you in this undertaking, along with family and friends, when you need them. Call on them for their support and insight when you have a problem.
And aside from these, even the single, divorced, widowed, and disowned have another support - the Church herself. So, call on your parish to support you, too!
(2) Pray! Pray, pray, pray!
Jesus promised us that whatever we ask in his name (there are some strings attached to this "in his name" clause) will be granted. How might we suspect that the salvation of our children is anything but in accord with his holy will?
So, pray without ceasing. Ask others to join their prayers to yours. Storm heaven with your prayer!
And then...
 (3) Trust.
We have from God’s word that for him who has faith, all things are possible. And whoever has even the faith of a mustard seed can move mountains.
Trust that once you’ve put your best foot and prayed earnestly, God will take care of the rest.
 Let’s pray this week that the Lord will open the eyes of our hearts, so that we can see the next step in our own formation, and in that of our children.  Let us ask that he help us to make time for that next step in our busy schedules, to take it, and to do it as well and as completely as we can.

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