It is summer time, and this Sunday’s readings almost seem like a PSA for lake safety! In the first reading, God wants to remark on the primordial power of His creative Spirit. So He asks Job, “you know the sea, with all that big scary water? I put it in its place!”
The 107th Psalm makes a similar point. Water can seem so gentle, calm, and soothing, but as all the flash floods the past month or so have taught us, even land-locked Kansas must fear the power of life-giving water. e Psalmist, who most likely lived by much more water than us land-lubbers, again points to God being even more powerful than all the bodies of water on earth, the cause of their mighty ebbing and flowing.
So when we get to the book of Mark, hopefully this puts the very familiar story in perspective. It is impressive enough, yes, that Jesus not only sleeps through a hurricane, but calms the waters at a simple command. But in light of this long history of Scripture demonstrating God’s power through His command of the waters, this story comes more into focus. Jesus is not only special or unique—He does what scripture only ascribes God with the power to do. is, of course, is because St. Mark wants you to know—this Man is God!
Water has long been a symbol of chaos, mystery, and disorder throughout many civilizations, just as it has paradoxically been the symbol for life, refreshment, and renewal. Scripture talks about the beginning of the world as “the deep,” an unordered abyss that the Spirit must move over and relegate in the seven days of creation. However, it also talks about the living streams of water issuing forth from the Temple, where all the nations will drink. Just think about the flood during the age of Noah—impending doom and destruction for the wicked of the earth, but also the ever present symbols of renewal and rebirth as well.
So when we come to the Baptismal font, and we are prone to treat it like one other neat celebration we do because, culturally, that’s “just what Catholics do,” I hope you will remember the readings from today. It’s easy to look at the water and think of how clean and neat it all appears. But the babies we Baptize know better! They scream and cry as if by intuition, they know: this water is cleansing and life giving at the same time and precisely because it is first chaotic and mysterious and unpredictable!
This is where the reading from St. Paul comes in for today—Baptism is a dying with Christ! The baptismal waters themselves share in this paradox as well. They are life giving precisely because they are a death. We die to ourselves in baptism, we die with Christ Jesus in baptism, in order that we may be raised to a new life in Him.
So when you look at your life, and it seems chaotic and mysterious and unpredictable, be of good cheer! This is how a “baptized life” should look! And do not be afraid—God not only made the chaotic waters, but set them in their place and on their course. In fact my friends, He has gone into this water before us, and waits for us on the other side.
Bo Bonnerblog comments powered by Disqus