by Joyce Hollyday
Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you… For Christ died for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit… Baptism now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:15, 18, 21)
We live in a sinful and fearful age. The greed of a few keeps the world’s majority enslaved in poverty and hunger. Some of us fear a past that has left us scarred with the wounds of childhood, and others fear a future in which the answer to every crisis seems to be to deploy missiles or Marines.
The people around Jesus were fearful too. The disciples cried out in the midst of a storm, until Jesus spread his hands to still the raging waters. The hosts at a Cana wedding were fearful for their reputation, until Jesus turned water into wine. The followers of Jesus feared their would be nothing to eat, until Jesus filled the waters of the sea with fish and the nets nearly broke.
In the time of Noah, the scriptures tell us, sin and fear were rampant. Water was a sign of judgment. God covered the earth, saving only a faithful few. But through Christ, water has become a sign of our redemption.
I remember being told as a child that, if a person goes under the water three times, he or she will drown. In baptism in Jesus’ time, and in some traditions today, the new Christian “goes under” three times–in the name of God the Creator, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a sign of “being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”
As we journey through the desert of Lent, let us be mindful, as dwellers in the desert are, of the critical importance of water. It is there for our sustenance–and our redemption.
And knowing that we are redeemed, we can be people who no longer dwell in sin and fear, but in hope. We are called to live in such a way that the people around us are pressed to ask us what we’re up to. Let us live as hopeful people in a despairing world, always prepared to “make a defense” when we are called to account for the hope that is in us.
- Has your baptism as a Christian been a sign of hope to others this year? How can you prepare anew to celebrate the gift of baptism this Easter?
- Whom do you know who lives the gospel in an interesting way? How does it affect others around them?
This reflection was written by Joyce Hollyday in the reflection booklet, Desert Sojourn: Lent 1991. This year’s reflection booklet is by Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Colleen Kelly, From Ashes to Resurrection, Dust to New Life, and is available as a download for purchase from the Pax Christi USA website. For more reflections and resources for Lent 2012, click here.