The Mystery of Divine Life
MONDAY, Easter week seven: May 9, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm celebrates Christ’s victory over sin and death (and all the consequences of sin, the chief of which is death): “Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth” (Psalm 68).
Acts 19: 1-8 makes clear the difference between the human gesture of repentance that John’s baptism was and the divine act of regeneration that sacramental Baptism is. The key to the difference is mystery.
Both baptisms are human gestures, human expressions of “repentance,” of a “change of mind.” Both are human acts of commitment. And God inspires and blesses any human expression of response to him.
But sacramental Baptism is a mystery of transformation — not just on the level of human choice and actions, but on the level of life itself: a transformation of our being. By sacramental Baptism we are incorporated into Jesus Christ. We become members of the Body of God the Son. As St. Augustine expressed it, we “become Christ.” This makes us what he is: children of God the Father, filii in Filio, “sons and daughters in the Son.” And the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is poured out into our hearts to “be with us forever” (John 14:16). Sacramental Baptism — Baptism “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19) is a mystery of God acting with divine power to give us a share in his own divine, eternal life. That is what “grace” is: the “favor” of participating in the divine life of God. By grace we become not just human but divine.
This is a “mystery,” a truth our human minds can never grasp completely, but which we keep growing into: a truth that “invites endless exploration.” The Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth,” is given to lead us into greater and greater understanding. Jesus promised, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you” (see John 14:16, 26; 15:26). This is the fruit of Christ’s victory on the cross: “Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth.”
John 16: 29-33 calls us to believe in that victory even in our darkest hours. Jesus had to do this when his disciples all “scattered,” leaving him alone. What sustained him was his conviction: “Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.” And Jesus is with us, even when we feel abandoned and alone. This is our lifeline in every doubt and difficulty: “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
“Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth,” Christ has conquered!
Initiative: Be a prophet. Consciously live and act as Christ’s risen body.