Monday: Psalm 119:1-56 & Romans 6:1-23

From John ZuHone

When were you baptized? I was baptized two weeks after I was born. You may have been baptized as an infant, as a small child, or as an adult. For many of you, it was a likely a day of great celebration with friends and family. And why shouldn't it be? You have passed from death to life in Christ! Unfortunately, it's also usually something that we often forget about in the course of our daily life. It happened so long ago, what relevance does it have today?

In Romans 6, St. Paul has just concluded in the previous chapters a long discussion of how the Law is incapable of saving us, and how Christ's work alone has delivered us from sin, which we receive as a free gift through faith. At this point, some may tempted to wonder if this means that it does not matter how we live, since grace will always be there to cover our sin. 

Paul anticipates this argument and heads it off immediately. "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1-2) That way of life, of slavery to sin, is dead, but the Christian is alive to God. And how did this happen? We have a very concrete reminder: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his." (Romans 6:3-5) When we were baptized, we weren't just getting wet--God was literally uniting us with the death and resurrection of Jesus. The old self died, and the new self arose. Why would we want to go back to the works of the old self? God has given us baptism as a concrete marker, something that physically happened to us, so we can be sure he has done it.

Martin Luther, when feeling the forces of temptation, would yell "I am baptized!" at the devil, asserting his identity in Christ. Maybe you don't want to do that, but when you feel temptation or despair, wet your hands with water, make the sign of the cross on your forehead, and let the feeling of the water linger there, as a reminder that you belong to God in Christ, that you have been buried with him and raised again. The old self with its bondage to sin is dead, and the new self is alive!

 

I’m an astrophysicist at the Harvard Observatory, studying galaxy clusters and X-ray astronomy. I enjoy spending time with my wife, having good conversation with friends, reading books, and playing the occasional Mario game.