In the Latin Rite, the ritual for baptism has been reduced to pouring water over the forehead with the baptismal formula. Some Rites within the Catholic Church still maintain the old ways of total immersion (i.e. the whole body being immersed into water). The ritual of total immersion brings to the fore, the idea of the convert dying to self and born into a new life in Christ: the immersion was the dying to the old self, and the emerging from the water, a birth into a new life in Christ. Christ’s own death, burial and resurrection is reflected in the ritual. Christ died to earthly life and arose to life in the spirit. Therefore as Christians – those who are baptised in faith – we enter into a new life in Christ. Our initial experience in baptism is but the beginning of a process that is to continue throughout his entire life, until hopefully, one day, we will also share Christ’s Resurrection.
Thus being a Christian means first and foremost dying to self, dying to sin, in order to live to Christ and in Christ in his new risen life. And it is here we find a paradox: personal union with Christ, is anything but an individualistic pursuit. There is no true union with Christ if we do not follow His footsteps. There is no true union with Him which does not lead to genuine concern for our neighbours, for the Church, and for those who are poor in spirit. Our Lord put in beautifully in this Sunday’s Gospel passage; “Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it”. Listen (or read) carefully to what else He says in this Sunday’s Gospel (Matt 10:37-42)