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Baptism

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As you can see I am sharing some of these blog posts written some time ago because I believe they still have something to offer our shared reflection.  I hope you enjoy them.

John McMahon, 23rd January 2016

On the third day of our 2011 Marist retreat, Michael Fallon MSC opened his talk on Baptism by quoting the Catechism: 'In baptism we are ... reborn as 'sons' of God, we become "members" of Christ and are made sharers in Jesus' mission (N1213).' In Christianity there is only one priest of the order of Melchizedek: Christ.  We all share in this priesthood, we each mediate the Divine (cf Ex 19:3-6). Jesus is identified as a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek (Ps.110) which makes the Temple unnecessary. Marists therefore are a kingdom of priests (in the Melchizedekian sense rather than the sacristy or temple sense) whose goal is to make the whole land holy.   All the baptised share in Jesus' priestly mediation (of the divine). For, as Paul says '... God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to us (Rom 5:5).'

Our work in evangelisation is summed up by Jesus' last prayer for His disciples as reported in John: ‘I made you known to them, and I will continue to do so, in order that the love you have for me may be in them, and so that I also may be in them (Jn 17:26).’ Each of the baptised shares in Jesus’ life and mission and so in His priesthood. ‘Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).’ This helps us see why one of Marcellin Champagnat's favourite psalms begins 'Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain (Ps 127:1).'

Michael pointed out that Jewish priesthood could only be exercised in the sanctuary where the Jewish priest was mediator between God and the people. Today, as baptised people sharing in the priesthood of Mechizedek, we mediate God's word, God's will, God's blessing and God's forgiveness. In so doing we draw people into the sanctuary where we are made holy (The word 'sacrifice' comes from the Latin sacrum [holy] and facere [to make]). Here, importantly, the ordained priest mediates to the gathered assembly.  We use our many gifts (cf 1 Cor 12:4-7) to live out our baptism and our preisthood. A baptised person is a sacrament, a sign enabling us to see people in Christ (rather than Christ in people) and mediate grace to each other.

Following the theme of Jesus as priest, prophet and king according to the order of Melchizedek, Michael then addressed the notion of prophet as a person who proclaims or speaks for God, through his or her prayer. This is a lively task: 'The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.  It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.  There is nothing that can be hidden from God; everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes.  And it is to him that we must all give an account of ourselves (Heb 4:12-13).'

Finally, Michael outlined how the baptised share in the kingship of Jesus. In Mark's Gospel we read 'Then Jesus went up a hill and called to himself the men he wanted. They came to him, and he chose twelve, whom he named apostles.  'I have chosen you to be with me,' he told them. 'I will also send you out to preach (Mark 3:13-14).' John reemphasises this mission: 'Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you" (John 20:21). In all this, stresses Pope John Paul II in his 1990 Encyclical The The Mission of Christ the Redeemer 'The Church addresses people with full respect for their freedom.  This mission does not restrict freedom but rather promotes it.  The Church proposes; it imposes nothing.  The Church respects individuals and cultures and honours the sanctuary of conscience' (39).

In this encyclical, the Pope refers to a pluralism which is 'the result of the driving force of the Spirit ... it encourages us to pay heed to the variety of missionary charisms and to the diversity of peoples and circumstances' for the 'ultimate purpose of mission is to enable people to share in the communion which exists between the Father and the Son. ... [which] is based not on human abilities but on the power of the risen Lord (23).' 

 John McMahon

Religious Life - Celibacy

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