Thought of the day
Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday of the Sixteenth week in Ordinary Time

The sign of Jonah

You were conducted by the hand to the holy pool of sacred baptism, just as Christ was conveyed from the cross to the sepulchre close at hand [in this Church of the Holy Sepulchre]. Each person was asked if he believed in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. You made the confession that brings salvation, and submerged yourselves three times in the water and emerged: by this symbolic gesture you were secretly re-enacting the burial of Christ three days in the tomb. For just as our Savior spent three days and nights in the bosom of the earth, so you upon first emerging were representing Christ... You saw nothing when immersed as if it were night, but you emerged as if to the light of day. In one and the same action you died and were born; ,the water of salvation became both tomb and mother for you... 

     What a strange and astonishing situation! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we did not really hang from a cross and rise again. Our imitation was symbolic, but our salvation a reality. Christ truly hung from a cross, was truly buried, and truly rose again. All this he did gratuitously for us, so that we might share his sufferings by imitating them, and gain salvation in actuality. What transcendent kindness! Christ endured nails in his innocent hands and feet, and suffered pain; and by letting me participate in the pain without anguish or sweat, he freely bestows salvation on me... 

     We know well that not merely does baptism cleanse sins and bestow on us the gift of the Holy Spirit - it is also the sign of Christ's suffering. This is why, as we heard just now, Paul cried out: “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death”... So in order that we may realise that Christ endured all his sufferings for us and our salvation actually and not in make-believe, and that we share in his pains, Paul cried out the literal truth: “If we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection,” (Rom 6,3-5).