|WATER ~ Source
of New Life
When God was forming a people in the Old Testament, water played a major role, as was reflected in many incidents: the crossing of the Red Sea, the striking of the rock, Jonah and the whale, Isaiah's call to come to the waters, etc. The fulfillment of the law and the prophets is found in Jesus Christ when He says: "no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born from water and spirit"(Jn 3: 5).
Water has become the sign of salvation. Christ commands His Apostles to "Go forth therefore and make all nations my disciples; baptize everywhere in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. . ." (Mt 28:19). He Himself inaugurated His public ministry by receiving the baptism of John. Eastern Fathers, particularly St. Ignatius of Antioch, teach that the contact of Christ's body with the water of the Jordan River is the principle of the sanctifying action of water in the holy mystery of baptism.
Contact with the Lord Jesus as the Baptizer as well as the very Water of Life is the starting point of our entire spiritual life. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: "Water is at the origin of world, the Jordan is at the origin of the Gospels."
|Describing what occurs at baptism St.
John Chrysostom writes: "When you come to the sacred initiation, the eyes
of the flesh see water; the eyes of the faith behold the Spirit. Those eyes see
the body being baptized; these see the old man being buried. The eyes of the
flesh see the flesh being washed; the eyes of the spirit see the soul being
cleansed. The eyes of the body see the body emerging from the water; the eyes of
faith see the new man come forth brightly shining from the new purification. Our
bodily eyes see the priest; our spiritual eyes see the great High Priest Jesus
Christ as he stretches forth His invisible hand to touch us. For, at that
moment, the one who baptizes is the only-begotten Son of God."
Baptismal grace is the "first grace," that is, the grace that communicates life in Christ to us. This grace blesses our whole lives and puts us in the right direction toward God in a process called justification, regeneration, conversion or rebirth.
The Holy Spirit is given in the baptism of water, making it a baptism with water and of the Spirit. God is no longer remote, God's presence is felt in the movement of the waters. God dwells intimately with the Christian people as a pledge of the relationship we have because of Christ. God has chosen to dwell among us as a perpetual sign of the oneness we have with Him.
I said you are gods and all of you are sons and daughters of the Most High. And this is said because you have been born of God. How and in what manner? Through the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.
St. John Chrysostom, Homily 14.
The waters of baptism liberate us from the yoke of Satan, form us according to the new creation, and incorporate us into Christ.
|How to Open the"Gift" of the Present|
"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things . . . and the God of peace will be with you" (Phil 4:8-9). Why spoil the present moment with anxiety? Today is all we have. The past is over, and no one can guarantee us tomorrow. Living in the present means saying NO to dark and fearful thoughts about the future. Most of the things we worry about never occur. We need to plan well for the future, but without undo anxiety and stress.
In the Burning Bush when God speaks to Moses, God gives the name "I AM" to Himself; God is all-present. All moments are NOW to God. Be Forgiving
"Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back" (Lk 6: 37-38).
|When the early immigrants first came to America many of them found work in the coal mines. They had little material wealth but a great treasury of faith. They would often encourage each other to generosity with the exhortation: "Remember God always has a bigger shovel." Feelings of guilt and resentment over the past can add unnecessary burdens to our lives. Negative thinking can quickly take over our day. What's done is done. Once you repent, God forgives and forgets. Discipline yourself to trust in God's mercy. Do not allow past mistakes to haunt you. True forgiveness is in the will and often the first person we need to forgive is ourselves. Accept the fact that mistakes are part of the human condition. We free ourselves of spite, resentment and hatred by praying for the grace to forgive, even when we don't feel like it. The very desire to forgive means that we have forgiven those who hurt us in our hearts. Be a doer, not a worrier "Do not worry about your life... can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?... So do not worry about tomorrow" (Mt 6: 25, 27, 34). Worry never baked a cake, gained a friend, or solved a problem. Fretting does little more than make a bad situation worse. Live each day to the best of your ability; bring joy and peace to others, and there is little danger that fear will prevail in your heart.||The great inventor, Thomas Edison tried two thousand experiments in search of a filament for the light bulb. When none worked properly, Edison's assistant complained: "All our work is in vain. We've gotten nowhere!" "On the contrary," Edison replied, "we've come a long way and we've learned a lot. We now know that there are two thousand materials which will not make a good light bulb." The assistant was a worrier, prone to discouragement, while Edison was a doer who was undaunted by set-backs. He kept his focus and plowed ahead with confidence in all he did. In matters great and small it's always better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness. Rejoice Always "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Tes 5:16-18). Cheerful acquiescence in all circumstances is the goal of each and every baptized Christian. Everyone must endure unavoidable miseries whether they like it or not. Cheerful acquiescence is not doleful resignation, it is the grace to see God's hand in our lives. In matters of serious illness, for example, we must do everything possible to get well, to accept the treatment with peace and courage. Self-pity does not have a place in true Christian living. Our goal is to live gladly because of our confidence of God's love and care.|
Once the great monk, Anthony of the Desert was relaxing with his disciples outside his hut when a hunter came by. The hunter was surprised to see Anthony relaxing, and rebuffed him for taking it easy. It was not his idea of what a holy monk should be doing.
Anthony replied, "Bend your bow and shoot an arrow." The hunter did so. "Bend it again and shoot another arrow, " said Anthony. The hunter did so again and again.
The hunter finally said, "Abba Anthony, if I keep my bow always stretched, it will break."
"So it is with the monk," replied Anthony. "If we push ourselves beyond measure, we will break. It is right from time to time to relax our efforts."
When we would tend to complain too much, Grandma would tell us the story of the Cross Tree. On the Day of Judgment, each person will be allowed to hang a cross representing all their unhappiness and sufferings on a branch of the great Cross Tree.
After all have found a limb from which their miseries may dangle, they may all walk slowly around the tree. Each person is to search for a cross of sufferings he or she would prefer to the one they have hung on the tree.
In the end, each one inevitably and freely chooses to reclaim his or her own cross rather than the cross of another. Each person leaves the Cross Tree wiser than when they arrived.
Baptized Into Christ
Called by Name In baptism, we were called by name. The Father said to each one of us: "You are my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased." God loves us unconditionally. God delights in us. Our name will stand forever written on God's hand: "I have called you by name, you are mine . . . you are precious in my sight" (Isaiah 43: 1,4).
We were given our own particular name to reveal our individuality, distinguishing us from every other child of God. Each of us is a unique creation, we enjoy the dignity of an individual selfhood in the eyes of God. We are called by our name when we enter into the mysteries of our church. When we receive the holy Eucharist we are called by name. This is the most public and intimate recognition of our relationship to Christ.
Once it was reported that an express package reached an address in New York from a South American town. The person who was to receive the package refused to pay the delivery charges. Consequently, for about fourteen years, that unclaimed box was used as a footstool in the express mail office. One day, purely out of curiosity, a man bid for it at an auction, at a very low price.
|When he opened it later he was astonished to
find several thousand dollars worth of silver coins. Because the original
consignee had refused to pay a comparatively small delivery charge, he missed
receiving a large fortune.
The same may be true of us; God gifts us with a precious treasure in our name. Have we discovered this treasure? Why was our particular name, the special gift from our parents, chosen for us? Do I know the meaning of my name and the challenge that this name presents to us. Do I know the virtues of those saints who made this name holy? How will I add luster to the name I bear, so that those who have gone before me will be honored, and those who come after me, challenged to holiness. When it is my responsibility to name a child, will I select the name of a saint who will inspire the child to greatness in God? Or do I simply choose what is popular?
God the Father called Jesus His "Beloved Son." Do I know in the inner depths of my heart what it means to be called beloved son or daughter by God?
Have we discovered the power of calling on the name of Jesus? He tells us in the Gospels that whatever we ask in His name, will be granted if our faith in His name is true. Jesus promised to be always with us as we travel our journey of faith. Are we aware of the tremendous value of calling out to Christ amidst the joys and sorrows of our lives? Or do we miss the treasure because it seems to cost too much? Our Father in the Faith taught us to pray in our hearts and call upon the name of the Lord: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.
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