A guest post by Louis Masi of the Archdiocese of New York.
Consider it a little “foretaste” of Easter, and a reflection on the value of Baptism:
When looking for signs of life on other planets, scientists look for the presence of water. Our very own bodies are made of almost sixty percent water. Without water, there is no life. Water is indeed at the very core of the human experience.
In the beginning of time, when God created all things, a mighty wind swept over the waters. One can only imagine the awesome beauty of the waters being stirred up by the hand of God as He fashioned creation. The churning of the waves must have been an astounding sight to see. Yet the Lord also tamed the water. The water under the sky was gathered into a single basin so that God could make room for dry land, upon which the greatest of his creatures—man—would live.
When His people were chained in Egypt, God exercised his authority over the waters once again in order to lead them across the Red Sea. The water was divided and the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land, with the water like a wall to their right and to their left. As the Egyptians marched in pursuit of them, the Lord cast the sea upon them and the flood waters covered them. God brought the Israelites to freedom through the waters of the sea and drowned that which was evil.
Water, death, and life.
We who were given life at the creation of world lost it when Adam sinned. God, however, would not allow his greatest creation, whom he deemed to be very good, to be lost so easily. So He sent his Only-Begotten Son into the world to suffer, die, and rise that we might have life.
This Jesus, who was with the Father at the creation of the world, also exercised His power over the waters of the earth. By his entrance into the Jordan river, he sanctified the waters of the earth so that man could be restored to life. St. Paul reminds us that, through the waters of baptism, we enter into the death and resurrection of Christ. As the Egyptians were left in the sea, we descend into the waters of baptism to die so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. As the Israelites escaped triumphantly, we are transfigured by the waters of baptism and live in newness of life.
Water, death and life.
The Church calls out to all men and women with the words of the Prophet Isaiah: All who are thirsty, come to the water. Those of us who have bathed in the saving waters of baptism should always be mindful of our death to sin and our rising with Christ. To those who have not yet washed in the sacred waters, the Lord says, do not be afraid. Jesus is risen from the dead just as He said! Alleluia, Alleluia! He wills to destroy the reign of sin and death within every man and woman making us all into a new creation.
Like a deer that yearns for running streams, come and let your longing be fulfilled. Come to the water. Die in the water. Rise to life in the water.