Baptism is the entrance to the Church and the gateway to the other sacraments. The basin of baptism marks the beginning of our spiritual birth, our knowledge of the Creed and our observance of the rites.
Baptism is thus the start, and every righteous start should be marked by baptism. Baptism is also the destination we are bound to head back to, for it is the womb of the Church where all the children of God are born. Let us, dear brothers, ponder the great miracle that took place right after our Savior was baptized. That miracle was a prelude to what was to happen. Heaven was opened.
Why? Jesus wants us to know that even if it is unseen, the exact same happens during our own baptism when God extends to us an invitation to our Heavenly homeland, and urges us not to hold on much to this world. Jesus Christ’s immersion in water is a symbol of His death and burial, and His ascent out of water is a symbol of His resurrection. Paul the Apostle explains that through baptism, the faithful are united with Christ in a death like his, but also in his Resurrection. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his”. (Romans 6: 4-5) Baptism, a sacrament given to us in childhood is not to prosper and flourish unless we are always hand in hand with Christ and leading a life of virtue. Just as Jesus Christ was revealed to the public, we who are baptized in His name shall also reveal Him to others.
We are baptized but once, but our baptism is renewed with every good deed we make, every identification with the poor, and every deep and thorough reading of the Bible. With every good deed, we renew our baptism, put away our sins and live with Christ. We are thus able to testify, like John, that Christ is the son of God. When the priest sprinkles holy water in our homes, it is a pledge to dedicate our homes to the Holy Spirit. When we drink holy water, we voluntarily accept to maintain the sanctity of our spirit and body. It is a renewed commitment to Christ to be forever clothed with him.
It is indeed heartwarming to sing in this blessed season: “All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ, Halleluiah”
Translated from the Arabic version written by Fr. Fadi Barkyl