Sixth Sunday after Pentecost—12 July AD 2009
“As Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the
Father, so we also may walk in newness of life.”
[ Ordinary of the Mass ]
[ English Text ]
[ Latin Text ]
Both of the readings this morning sound as if they belong
closer to Easter. Paul tells the Romans that, by virtue of their Baptism,
they are united not only to our Lord's death, but also to His resurrection from
the dead. That by sharing in the resurrection of our Lord, we share in His
victory over sin and death.
The Gospel reminds us of another, from Saint
John’s sixth chapter which is read in Lent, to prepare us for the offering of
the first Mass at the Supper in the upper room. Saint John’s account is
very important because it includes not only the multiplication of the loaves,
but includes our Lord’s promise that He intended to give His actual flesh and
blood in Holy Communion. Today we are content to see how our Lord can make
Himself present in each and every consecrated host, and each and every drop of
The liturgical year is often like this,
allowing us to take glimpses back toward these events which are central to our
salvation. It prompts us to recall some of the effects of these essential
Now, Baptism, first of all, takes away
every vestige of original sin and actual sin. We know that by their sin of
disobedience, Adam and Eve lost their close relationship with God. Nothing
that they did could, any longer, please Him. Even when they did good
things, they no longer had the ability to earn merit in God's eyes.
Likewise, they lost this ability for all of us who were born after them.
But through our Lord's Sacrifice on the
Cross, to which we are united by the saving waters of Baptism, this ability is
restored. The Sacraments bring about that which they symbolize—and as we
are lowered beneath the water, we symbolically die with Christ—and then are
raised up again as we are taken out of the water. As the waters are poured
over us, we can imagine the dirtiness of sin being washed away. After
Baptism, when we do something that is good, it is recognized by the Father as an
act of His adopted son or daughter—it earns merit as though it were a good act
of Jesus Christ Himself. Baptism opens the gates of heaven, heretofore
close to us by the sin of Adam, and by our own sin.
Baptism also serves to remove all of the
punishment due to sin. All of the sins we have committed up to the time of
Baptism are forgiven, and all of the punishments due to them are taken away.
There is not even the need to do penance for them, as there is after making a
subsequent Sacramental Confession. Here again, the Sacrament acts to do
what it symbolizes: as the waters are poured over us, all of the dirtiness of
sin is washed away—a radical cleansing, not just a covering up.
With Baptism the life of God begins to
live in our soul. We become, as the expression goes, “temples of the
Holy Ghost.” Very much as God is present in the Blessed Sacrament in the
tabernacle, God is present in our souls. And, that union of God with us
causes us to possess an abundance of graces:
And finally, by Baptism we become,
forever, members of the Catholic Church—marked with the indelible character of
this Sacrament—a mark that will endure forever—that makes it unnecessary
(and even impossible) to receive the Sacrament again.
With Baptism we become eligible to
receive the other Sacraments and capable of receiving the graces which
they have to offer.
Holy Communion is a bit different.
We are able to receive It frequently—daily if we remain in the state of grace.
It increases the graces which we received at Baptism. It is quite
literally the “bread of life,” for when we receive our Lord in Holy
Communion, we receive food for the spiritual journey that begins at the Cross on
Mount Calvary as we renew our Lord’s Sacrifice, and will one day end with the
beatific vision of God in Heaven—a journey that no man or woman can afford not
to make. In Holy Mass, and particularly if we receive Holy Communion, we
participate in the very Sacrifice of our redemption. In each and every
Mass, Christ Himself, as priest and victim, presents the truly acceptable
offering to His Father on our behalf.
We ought to take the greatness of these
Sacraments to heart. Periodically we ought to take the time to renew the
promises which we made, or were made for us, at Baptism. To once again
renounce the devil, and all of his works, and all of his allurements.
Likewise we should frequently renew our Baptismal innocence—to be sure that we
are free from the dirtiness of sin, by making a good Confession—to be filled
with the abundance of God's graces which come to us in Holy Communion. To
be filled with God Himself, the true body and blood, humanity and divinity, of
“Christ, rising again from the dead,
dies no more.” Let us join Him in His Sacraments; Baptism or Penance,
and the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar—so that being dead with Him to
sin, we can rise also with Him to the rewards of eternal life.