Second Reading: Romans 6:3-11
Life in Christ
3 Don’t you already know that, when we were baptized into Christ, we were baptized into his death? 4 When we were baptized into his death, we were buried with him. Now we have a new life, just like Christ has when he was raised from the dead by the glory of God the Father. 5 If we are united to Christ in a death like his, we will rise to a new life like his.
6 We know that the life we used to live has been nailed to the cross, along with Jesus, so our sin-filled bodies might no longer be slaves to sin. 7 (After all, a dead person can’t sin any more.) 8 If we died along with Jesus, we believe that we will live forever with him. 9 We know that the risen Lord can’t die again. Death has no power over him! 10 With his death, he died to sin forever. With his risen life, he lives for God. 11 In the same way, you should think of yourselves as dead to sin, but living for God, along with Jesus.
3 Or, do you not know that, as many (of us) as were baptized into Christ, into his death were baptized? 4 Then, we were buried together with him through the baptism into his death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we might walk (throughout life) in the newness of life. 5 For, if, we became united together into a likeness of his death, so we will also be in (his) resurrection. 6 Thus knowing our old self was crucified together, so that the body of sin might be abolished, for us no longer to be slave to sin. 7 For, having died, (one) might be made righteous (apart) from sin. 8 If we died with Christ, we believe that we will live together with him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, no longer dies, (as) death no longer rules over him. 10 For, he died to that, to sin he died once and for all. That he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you should also think of yourselves [to be] dead to sin, but living to God in Christ Jesus.
6:3-4 The verb “baptize” could also mean “immerse.” Paul mean the verb in an existential sense, not simply a sacramental sense. Our immersion (found most tangibly in Baptism) connected us with the death and resurrection of Jesus. In other words, the death-resurrection event transcended space and time. And our immersion united us into that event in a very real way. We are one with the death and resurrection of Jesus because we are one with Christ, in Christ.
6:6 “our old self“ The term “self” is literally “man.” The term was used in a collective sense.
We all know the theology of Baptism. This sacrament washes away sin, makes us children of God and members in his Church, and gives us the first real taste of the Spirit. Yet, if we stop there, we will miss the deeper meaning of the sacrament.
Paul wrote to the faithful at Rome about Baptism. The sacrament places us “in Christ.” In other words, we have an intimate relationship with the Risen Lord, who still carries the reality of death with him. (Doesn’t he still have his wounds on his hands and in his side?) This relationship demands a change in moral living. And it demands a new orientation toward God. After all, in this relationship, we touch the One through whom we were forgiven. And, in Christ, we touch the very event of that forgiveness.
As the note above stated, however, Paul meant this “baptism” in broader terms than just the sacrament. This immersion was a code word for the Christian life. By the fact we touch the event of Christ’s death in the Risen Lord, we have been crucified with him. Sometimes, the Christian life is not the most convenient way to live. Sometimes it has its costs. These could be the consequences of sin, ours or others. No matter. Our suffering is part of our participation in the death of Christ. When we suffer in small or large ways, we share in the reality of the crucifixion.
Fortunately, our participation in the death of Christ is only possible through the presence of the Risen Christ. Our share in the suffering is only possible through our share in eternal life. In other words, grace not only gives suffering meaning, it places our suffering into a much greater context. Just as Easter gives Good Friday its meaning, so, too, does life in the risen Christ give our bruised and painful journey through life real purpose.
So, what does Baptism really mean? A new life in his life. A life that is one with his pain, one with his glory. A life in Christ.
Reflect on your baptism. How is it alive in you today?