Thought for the Day – 25 April – Thursday in the Octave of Easter
Congratulations to those who entered
the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation,
(Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion)
at the Easter Vigil.
You are now members with us,
in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Baptism is a symbol of Christ’s passion
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (315-387)
Bishop, Father, Doctor of the Church
An excerpt from his Mystagogical Catechesis 3
You were led down to the font of holy baptism just as Christ was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb which is before your eyes. Each of you was asked, “Do you believe in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?” You made the profession of faith that brings salvation, you were plunged into the water and three times you rose again. This symbolised the three days Christ spent in the tomb.
As our Saviour spent three days and three nights in the depths of the earth, so your first rising from the water represented the first day and your first immersion represented the first night. At night a man cannot see but in the day he walks in the light. So when you were immersed in the water, it was like night for you and you could not see but when you rose again, it was like coming into broad daylight In the same instant, you died and were born again, the saving water was both your tomb and your mother.
Solomon’s phrase in another context is very apposite here. He spoke of a time to give birth and a time to die. For you, however, it was the reverse – a time to die and a time to be born, although, in fact, both events took place at the same time and your birth was simultaneous with your death.
This is something amazing and unheard of! It was not we who actually died, were buried and rose again. We only did these things symbolically but we have been saved in actual fact. It is Christ who was crucified, who was buried and who rose again and all this has been attributed to us. We share in His sufferings symbolically and gain salvation in reality. What boundless love for men! Christ’s undefiled hands were pierced by the nails, He suffered the pain. I experience no pain, no anguish, yet, by the share that I have in His sufferings, He freely grants me salvation.
Let no one imagine that baptism consists only in the forgiveness of sins and in the grace of adoption. Our baptism is not like the baptism of John, which conferred only the forgiveness of sins. We know perfectly well that baptism, besides washing away our sins and bringing us the gift of the Holy Spirit, is a symbol of the sufferings of Christ. This is why Paul exclaims: Do you not know that when we were baptised into Christ Jesus we were, by that very action, sharing in His death? By baptism we went with Him into the tomb.