From UGLY to BEAUTIFUL
(a reflection on Mark 1:7-11)
- by Deacon Paul Rooney
Baptisms are exciting! They tell us something special about each one of us. We humans are not just "monkeys without tails," running around the house. No, we have been given a very special dignity by God. We know that is true, because Holy scripture tells us that we become God's sons and daughters through baptism. Not only that, but Jesus himself told us that "unless we are born of water and the Spirit, we shall not enter into the Kingdom of God" (John 3:5).
Baptism is not only a Sacrament that brings us into the church family; it is also a very intense, personal thing. Here is the way one ten-year-old girl defined it:
"Sacraments are what you do in Church. What you do at home is something else. Cooking and sewing and running the sweeper and eating and sleeping and praying and scrubbing yourself -- those are not sacraments. When you are little and ugly, somebody carries you in to the church, and you come out a beautiful child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of heaven. They pour water on your head, and that's a Sacrament."(1)
I like that! From ugly (= a life without Jesus) to beautiful (= life with Jesus). That says it all, doesn't it? Baptism is a sign and seal that we are in truth children of God. Baptism tells us who we are; and that is terribly important to understand.
You heard what happened at the baptism of Jesus. A voice came from heaven, one that said: "You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased." Well, through the sacrament of baptism, Jesus comes to dwell within us. But the story doesn't end there! Now He asks us to act like real family members. And members of His family are called to act in only one way: to love God, to love each other unconditionally, and to forgive each other unconditionally.
But still the story doesn't end there, either. Because of baptism, the Evil One has lost his place in our lives. And now he will try to destroy our identity as God's holy children. so he will begin his efforts to make us doubt God's love for us.. He will lie to us; steal from us; tempt us; and do everything he can to complicate our spiritual journey.
At Mary Our Queen parish we offer a spirituality program called "Unbound." It is just one way that we can learn to react forcefully to Satan's attacks. Certainly the Sacrament of Reconciliation forgives us of all of our sins; that is guaranteed! What is not guaranteed is that Satan won't come right back into our lives through that unlocked revolving door. We all need to learn how to shut and lock that door of access to our hearts, to slam it in Satan's face. And we do that by learning how to forgive, renounce, and take authority over all evil spirits and break the power of their influence, as soon as we become aware of them.
Over eighty folks are taking the current seminar "Unbound," and we will be offering it again in the Spring. So our hope is that everyone who can, will register for that spiritual program next time that it is available.
You and I are sons and daughters of our Father in heaven. Do not let Satan steal your precious identity! Use the Holy Water fount when you enter and leave the church. It is a reminder of our identity! Keep a good supply of Holy Water in your home, and use it daily! As St. Teresa of Avila, a great Doctor of the Church teaches us, and I quote: "From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight, and prevent them from coming back again. They also flee from the Cross, but return; so holy water must have great virtue." (Ch. 31, Autobiography.)
To conclude: We are not monkeys; we are children of God, members of God's holy family. So act like God's kids, kingdom kids; and use the sacraments and sacramental that he has provided for us to engage in spiritual warfare, and win! (+)
Deacon Paul Rooney
Mary Our Queen Parish, Omaha
(1)Adapted from a lost quote by Jerry Fuller (2000?)
Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.