scripture reflection

Baptism: Sign of Renewal

1st Sunday of Lent (B)

Did you know that Lent has its origins in the season of preparation for new Christians who were to be baptized at Easter? That’s why our readings for this first Sunday of Lent speak about baptism, as a sign of our rebirth in Christ and the cleansing of our sins.

God speaks to us in ways that we can understand, which means he speaks to us in signs. That’s essentially what the sacraments are, but they are not merely signs in the way that we usually think of them – something that points to something else. They are what the Church calls “efficacious signs” meaning they actually bring about that which they signify. So baptism doesn’t just represent a new birth in Christ, it actually makes it happen.

I think it would be good for us to approach our Lenten observance this year mindful of the promise of renewal God gives us in baptism, because we all are in need of renewal. God gave himself to us in Christ, and by our rebirth in baptism we give ourselves in God in Christ. Because that’s the relationship God calls us to, a relationship of love and mutual self-giving. The more we give ourselves to God by cooperating with his grace, the more God will be able to give us of himself in return.