Relationships By The Waters

I teach a class on Sacraments at a Catholic high school, so obviously, when Brandon comes at me with a conversation about a Sacrament, it’s sure to be a brain worm that won’t actually leave me alone anytime soon. So, even though I said there wasn’t anything in particular on my mind at the end of this week’s pod, that was only true for that moment. Almost immediately afterwards, something was on my mind. Is it just me, or do we focus to much on sin when we think about Baptism?

Baptism has four effects, all of which are vital and necessary for us. I tend to sub-group them into cleansing and relationship effects. Baptism cleanses us our committed sins and removes the damages of original sin. It also establishes us in a relationship with God as His adopted children and connects us by making us members of the Church. Now, I’m not here to rank them, because they are all in harmony and shouldn’t be divided. It seems to me, though, that often we focus on the sin part of the equation.

I would have thought I was projecting, since part of this burrowing so deeply in my head was a result of me reflecting on how my lessons on Baptism are structured, but the more I’ve looked at different teaching resources, the more I’m convinced that I’m not the only one. I’m not even upset about it, to be clear. I think it’s great that we talk about how the waters of Baptism make us clean and free. In a world so dominated by the slavery of sin, recognizing the path to freedom is incredibly important.

Where it can become problematic, though, is if we forget that Baptism is intended as a start and not an end. The cleansing of Baptism is a one and done affair. It removes the chains and slavery of the past and makes us free. If we fail to consider the relationship aspects, though, we lose sight of what we’ve been set free for. We weren’t made free of those chains, after all, just to embrace new ones. Instead, we were made free so that we could move forward in relationship with our God and with one another.

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