Baptism Is Only the Beginning
In the 2nd Reading this weekend, St. Paul exhorts us to “think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” This is a beautiful mystery of our faith: by the Sacrament of Baptism, we have died and rose again to new life in Christ. By the cleansing waters of Baptism, our lives have been hidden with Christ in God — in other words, we have been brought into union with Christ.
Baptism, however, is only the beginning. What begins at Baptism must be put into action each day over the course of our entire lives. This is why St. Paul challenges us to “put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly.” Why would we continue to be consumed with worldly glory if our life is hidden with Christ in God? If we have put on the “new self” which is Christ, we ought to be consumed with the things of heaven, rather than the things of earth.
Our Lord speaks to the same reality in the Gospel this weekend as he says “one’s life does not consist of possessions.” While the many good and beautiful things of this world can be used for our enjoyment, we must keep in mind that our ultimate destiny is to enjoy the things of heaven forever. We were not made for earthly riches, we were made to be “rich in what matters to God.”
The Church in her wisdom has for many centuries encouraged three consistent practices which will help us “think of what is above, not of what is on earth:” prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Through prayer, we fill our minds with thoughts of heavenly things. Through fasting, we “put to death” the parts of us that are earthly. Through almsgiving, we inculcate a generous heart and “guard against all greed.”
If we do these things with a sincere and loving heart, then “when Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.”
Fr. Bill Van Wagner