Speak Lord: washed not drowned…

St Peter, Wolverhampton

This weekend, usually on the first Sunday of Lent, bishops meet with the catechumens of their diocese to consider their readiness to proceed to the celebration of the sacraments of initiation. Their decision to follow Christ, long ago taken and affirmed in their parishes, has come to a certain maturity. Under advice from the sponsors of the catechumens, the bishop elects them for the final stage of their preparation.

The second reading for the Mass on Sunday, and the Rite of Election, reminds of Christ’s ministry to the ‘us’ that includes all human beings, and how baptism is both an expression of Christ’s work and our response to his love.

Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison. Now it was long ago, when Noah was still building that ark which saved only a small group of eight people ‘by water’, and when God was still waiting patiently, that these spirits refused to believe. That water is a type of the baptism which saves you now, and which is not the washing off of physical dirt but a pledge made to God from a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has entered heaven and is at God’s right hand, now that he has made the angels and Dominations and Powers his subjects.

1 Peter 3:18-22

Do pray for those preparing for the Easter sacraments, now with an even greater sense of urgency. Pray for their sponsors and those others who seek to accompany them as they further deepen their relationship with the Lord and his Church.

Pray for yourself also and your parish community as you prepare during this Lent for the Easter renewal of your baptism promises.

Photograph is a details from a set of stained glass windows showing episodes from the life of St Peter, in St Peter’s Church, Wolverhampton. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.