Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ezekiel to Jesus to Baptism: Daily Mass Homily--Thursday, August 21st, 2014

            The first reading is one of my favorites to use at a Baptism.
            The prophecy from God to Ezekiel points directly to this sacrament of the New Testament: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.” 
            My professor in seminary told us a three simple lines to remember what Baptism does in a person’s soul: sin out, God in, in the Church.  All sin—original and actual—is forgiven through the waters of Baptism.  The Holy Spirit enters a person’s soul and they are also welcomed into our family of faith.
            Ezekiel points to another reality of Baptism: “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.”  Through this first sacrament, we are marked (or sealed) by God for all eternity.  We are given a new heart and a new spirit.  While from the physical perspective a baby or adult looks exactly the same before and after the ceremony, the spiritual reality is quite different.  By being baptized one becomes a new creation.
            Interestingly enough, Jesus’ parable has also been interpreted with reference to Baptism by the Church Fathers.  While it is an insightful passage as a whole—a man holds a feast, no one comes, those who didn’t come were destroyed and others took their place—the description of the last man is where Baptism is alluded to: “But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.  He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’”
            The Church knows of no other ordinary way to get to heaven.  Just as a baby is given a white garment, so too are we clothed with the wedding garment of heaven.

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