Saturday, March 21, 2009

There is a Remedy (Sunday homily)

Our first reading would have been pretty depressing
if it had stopped halfway through:
“there was no remedy.”

But there is a remedy:
As we heard Saint Paul say:
“God, who is rich in mercy…
brought us to life with Christ
(and) raised us up with him.”

By grace we have been saved—not by our works—
And seated us in heaven in Christ Jesus.

This is what happens in baptism!

As you can see, we have our “new” baptismal font.
In fact, it is an old font,
rescued from Assumption Church in Walnut Hills,
in Cincinnati.
I don’t know who first donated it;
but surely they will be glad it will continue
to be the means by which boys and girls, women and men
are “brought to life with Christ.”

After this Mass, we will bless this font—
and, Deo gratias!—we have a baby to baptize as well!

Blessing a new baptismal font is a very special moment for a parish.
I hope you will stay and take part.

Just a heads up—so special is this
that the Church calls for the new font to be incensed;
So, fair warning for anyone
who would prefer to avoid the incense.

Let me read you something
from the ritual for blessing a new font:

The site of the baptismal font is rightly considered
to be one of the most important parts of a church.
For it is the place for celebrating baptism,
the first sacrament of the New Law,
through which those who firmly accept Christ
in faith and receive the Spirit of adoption
become in name and in fact God’s adopted children.

It goes on to say, in situating the font,

Everything must be arranged in such a way as to bring out
the connection of baptism with the word of God and with the Eucharist,
the high point of Christian initiation.

I believe we’ve done that—
because placing the font at the entrance of church
shows that baptism is how we enter into new life
in Jesus Christ.

Our journey leads us from baptism
to hear the Word of God, and to the Eucharist.

Likewise, when we leave this place,
We are reminded we are empowered by the Holy Spirit
to bring Christ into our world.

There will be blessed water in this font—
serving to remind us that the purpose of holy water
is to recall our baptism, and—
every time we bless ourselves with holy water,
we are calling on the power of the Blessed Trinity
for our protection and for our mission to the world.

The ritual also says:

"The baptismal font…should be stationary, gracefully constructed
out of a suitable material, of splendid beauty and spotless cleanliness…”

I hope you find this “graceful,” “suitable,” and beautiful.

My brothers and sisters,
there are times when I hear about
a complaint or a fear that people have—
someone is saying, “woe is us, what are we to do?”
Our Catholic community, our parishes and schools,
face challenges, to be sure;
but where do people get the idea
that they—we—are powerless?

That font; and this Word of God;
that altar where Christ is lifted up
at every Mass in his all-powerful Sacrifice;
and this tabernacle
where the King of kings and Lord of Lords
remains forever in our midst
demonstrate that you and I are not powerless!

If we had a nuclear reactor in here;
If every powerful politician and financier filled our pews;
If we could somehow lasso the sun and haul it down here;
we would not have as much power in our midst
as we do—right at this very moment—
in the Son of God who has chosen to dwell in our midst!

That power is not here merely to behold, however;
That power of God is poured into us in baptism!

Every time you feel powerless—overwhelmed—
Bless yourself with the waters of baptism, and remember:
what you are, and who are, in Jesus Christ!

If you’ve been brought down, weighed down, by sin—
Come this Tuesday at 7 pm to our Penance Service.
In confession we are given back
the purity and power of baptism!

May our tongues fall silent, if ever we forget this!
But we will not fall silent—
Because we know and we will tell our world
that this place is Jerusalem—
this is Holy Zion where our Lord in power reigns!

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