May 3: Reflection from Rev. Michael K. Jones, S.T.D., ChD
Death is not something we naturally associate with Baptism. At most Baptisms a family gathers with a beautiful baby girl or boy, dressed in white, full of natural potential. The water the priest pours is meant to nourish and to cleanse, to welcome into the Christian family.
But the arc of life is such that at our funeral the priest intones in these or similar words, “In the waters of Baptism we die with Christ…. Now let us rise with Him to new life.” For it is then that we know Baptism as when we first learned to swim, in the pool or at the shore, when that inevitable moment of panic arrives: we can’t reach the side or the shore or touch the bottom…. it is then that we know that Christ is also the life guard. He comes into our vale of tears and rescues us by His embrace, symbolized by a white garment now on our coffin. And that Easter candle nearby, lit when all seemed dark and hope was gone, harkens back to a candle held by our godparents, each a spark of light to remind us of a pilot light that never goes out.
In John chapter 5 a man encounters the Lord by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, at a public bath called Bethesda. His complaint is that no one will lower him into the healing waters. Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be made well?” And, of course, like any of us, he answers in the affirmative. Jesus then says “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And so the man does. He is healed but never was he placed in those healing waters of Bethesda. He had no such need after meeting the well-spring of all life.
As we bathe in the waters of Lourdes today, ponder your own Baptism, your own mortality, your own need for nourishment and cleansing, while always trusting in the Life Guard who is near.
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