Our Appeal To God
I love today's reading from St Peter. He speaks about baptism being an appeal to God, not for the removal of bodily dirt, but for a clean conscience~ more of a removal of spiritual dirt.
This appeal indicates that a conscious decision was made by the one being baptized. For most of us, that appeal and decision was made by our parents and Godparents when we were baptized as infants. In the days of the early Church most people were baptized as adults or as older children and it wasn't a mere sprinkling of water over the person's head, but a full immersion into the water to symbolize the dying of the baptized in and with Christ and then coming up out of the waters in His Resurrection.
In Baptism we die to ourselves and live our new lives in Christ.
Watching those coming forward for Baptism at the Easter Vigil is one of my favorite parts of that Mass. They have consciously made that appeal to God and God grants them their request in this sacrament. While those of us who have already been baptized cannot be baptized again, for what is given in this sacrament can never be taken away, we renew our baptismal vows, making that appeal to God once again. We can also make the appeal as often as we need to in the sacrament of Reconciliation.
By virtue of our Baptism, we are called to go forward living our new lives in Christ and proclaiming Him and His Kingdom to those around us.
Jesus' time in the wilderness is an example to us of how to do this. His forty days in the desert where He endured hunger, thirst and temptation fortified Him for His three years of ministry. If we are to spend our lives walking in Christ's footsteps, we need to start where He did in prayerful solitude. We don't need to go off into the wilderness, but some time in quiet in church before the Blessed Sacrament, or in our homes prayerfully reading Scripture for a few minutes each day will fortify us for the mission to which we we have been called.
May we spend these forty days of Lent in the wilderness with Jesus appealing to our Heavenly Father for a clean conscience.
~A clean heart create in me O God, and steadfast spirit place within me. (Psalm 51)
*Today's Mass readings can be found here.