Living Waters – Baptism: From His Heart Through Ours

Too often this Sacrament has been described merely as an “initiation” into Christianity. What a very poor description of what is found in this sacred Event!

That’s like saying adoption is merely a legal process. True, adoption is a legal process, but for the majority of those who have experienced this “procedure,” such a definition is pathetically inadequate. It does not comprehend the depth of commitment by the parent and of the mutual benefit/blessings encompassed in this action. This is a useful example, since, within the backdrop of Covenant, adoption is one way our new relationship with the God of the Universe is expressed by St Paul [Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5].

But what Baptism brings is even larger than that. We must also learn about what “the Body of Christ” means to this Apostle, what “the New Birth” speaks of in terms of our future – both immediate and eternal –, and what is the power of being part of the “Holy Nation, God’s Own special People” [I Peter 2:8-9].

Since Baptism is always passive (I do not baptized myself), it then speaks volumes about the activity of God as He makes us His Children, and as Jesus washes us in order to present us to Himself “without spot or shadow due to sin” [Ephesians 5:26-27]. As with Holy Communion, this is something that comes out of His heart and out of His eagerness to bind Himself to us (and us o Him) – and out of His deliberate “painting Himself into a corner” where He cannot back out, nor reject us, just like when He steadfastly bound Himself to Abraham and to his seed. He deliberately makes it so that He cannot abandon us, just like throughout the Old Testament where He never gave up on His Covenant to His chosen People, and as Paul indicates in Romans 9-11, He still does not give up on them. This is the exact same commitment that is now available to us in the New Testament.

An essential point here is how this Sacrament comes from the heart of God at His initiative. Indeed, it must be at His initiative, since mankind cannot walk into God’s throne room and dictate Him what He ought to do. Instead, Jehovah of Covenant graciously extends His same Steadfast Love and commitment to helpless humans of today in a way that encompasses such depth that it takes many different images to just touch on what this gift involves.

The set-up of this book is in two sections: in the first is a brief synopsis of the topic of the chapter, which then has a parallel chapter in section two, where there is more depth and background to the topic. Hopefully this will give the novice in Baptism a good survey of the Sacrament without being overwhelmed, yet at the same time providing the basis in the second section when one wishes to go deeper into the matter.