The Old Waters of Baptism
Touching the Holy Water
The waters of Baptism are old. They roll all the way back to the Beginning when God stepped out on space and created water. The Catholic theology of Baptism takes one back to the place where I, my Fathers, Grand Fathers, Great, Great-Grandfathers, all those who have gone before us in faith, first believed. In church we call that the Economy of Salvation or Divine Economics.
God manages His house through the waters of Baptism.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew scriptures, the Spirit of God breathed on the waters of Creation making them the wellspring of all holiness. BAPTISM!
Then there is Noah and the Ark, water saving creation from the water flooding the earth and nurturing a new beginning. Sounds like BAPTISM to me!
Then there is the parting of the Red Sea waters so God’s people can CROSS OVER from slavery to freedom. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM by way of WATER!
Then in Joshua 4:23 we are told how God, down by the Jordan Riverside, allowed the People of God into their own land, GOD’S COUNTRY!!! By God and water, they inherited new land and new life! All this action of God begins to show us how God uses water to change something old into something new in order to allow us to live according to God. Just as we cannot live without water, we cannot live with God without His Holy Water.
Baptism is so important, so foundational, and so fundamental that we can and should spend a lifetime exploring and unpacking the sacrament. The signs of its importance are stimulating. It is the first Sacrament we receive. It is ordinarily celebrated on the holiest night of the year, the Easter Vigil, and the most important Sunday, Easter Sunday.
Parents and Grandparents are eager to get the baby baptized! Baptism changes each of us, one by one, into this power-filled group called God’s family. Jesus, Son of God, becomes Son of Man. We, daughters and sons of men, through baptism, become daughters and sons of God.
Jesus is baptized. He comes out of the dry land without water and is baptized. After that refreshing day, he begins his public ministry, he goes to work. He himself begins the work of the church. In this movement, Jesus answers the age old question remarkably phrased in the old Negro Spiritual, “Tell Me How Did You Feel When You Come Out the Wilderness?” He answers, “I feel good! I feel like going on. I don’t feel no ways tired! I feel better, so much better!
And with that feeling, like fire shut up in the bones, like something has got a hold on me and won’t leave me alone, I stand in the need of prayer and when the Sprit says move, I move. I go to work for the Master. I am on the battlefield of the Lord. I am in the vineyard of the Lord. I was blind, but now I see, because after Baptism, I walk by faith, not by sight. I promise that I will serve Him till I die and He promises me that in Our Father’s house, there are many mansions.”
It could all be a bunch of clichés for preaching or lyrics for songs, but by testimony of the example of Jesus, it is well with my soul, “When peace like a river attendeth my way and when sorrows like sea billows roll;” (“It Is Well with My Soul”/Horatio G. Stafford 1873) Whatever my lot, baptism is deep well water, deep living water, deep in my soul.
God the Father makes a way out on no way for us to be in His family. God the Holy Spirit marks us with an indelible mark as claimed by God, and God the Son, by his own baptism, makes us, by our baptism, the most blessed and most powerful force in all of God’s creation. Something to think about the next time we touch the Holy Water and the Holy Water touches us.