Baptism, Faith, and the Death and Resurrection of Christ

“Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

christ-descent_jpgIn one of his Paschal discourses to his monastic community Saint Symeon the New Theologian explains how the Cross, the Tomb, and the third day Resurrection of Christ are mysteries that the faithful are to live with their entire selves.  He writes, “Christ our God was suspended on the Cross and, having nailed thereto the sin of the world and having tasted death, He descended into the nethermost depths of Hades. He returned from Hades into His own immaculate body, from which [His Divinity] had in no way been separated as He descended thither, and at once He rose from the dead. Thereafter, He ascended to Heaven with great glory and power. In just the same way, since we have now come out of the world and entered into the tomb of repentance and humiliation by being assimilated to the sufferings of the Lord, He Himself comes down from Heaven and enters into our body as into a grave. He unites Himself to our souls and raises them up, though they were avowedly dead, and then vouchsafes to him who has thus been raised with Christ to behold the glory of His mystical Resurrection.”

Just as through the Cross, joy has come into the world. So through our humility and our repentance, joy comes into our lives. And these two mysteries, the great mystery of salvation in Christ and the little mystery of our soul finding its way are deeply embedded one in the other. In truth, His death for our sakes becomes our death to sin and corruption.  His resurrection for our sakes becomes our resurrection unto eternal life so that when the Eternal Father gazes upon creation He sees the in us figure of His Eternal Son who died and rose from the dead.

The dread events in the Holy city of Jerusalem at the time of Pontius Pilate and our own lives are forever connected through the mystery of Baptism.  We are submerged in the Radiant Waters of holy baptism and mystically buried with Christ. Our sin and mortality are left in the waters, as in a tomb, so that we may rise with Him to newness of life. This movement from death to life is no weak symbol or liturgical re-enactment, but a mystery apprehended by faith, apprehended by prayer, apprehended by those who have touched Christ, have put on Christ, and now have Christ living in them.

In an earlier post on depression, I made some similar comments, “For the Christian, depression as a mindset is incompatible with the life of faith, for it expresses the conviction that our cross is only a cross, suffering and nothing more, that our loss is only a loss and not a possibility for grace-attracting kenosis, and that without our former world, without our ideal self-image, and without our this-worldly dreams, there is no point in moving forward, there is no goal worth pursuing, in a word, there is nothing to hope for.”  For those who are baptized, our earthly sufferings are Christo-centric crosses that offer the path to resurrection in Christ.  Our union with Him in holy baptism means that everything the world considers banal and base is life-giving and an opportunity to behold the resurrection of Christ in our own lives.

As Saint Symeon notes, “As has been said, Christ’s Resurrection and His glory are our glory, which is accomplished in us, disclosed to us, and beheld by us through His Resurrection. Once He has appropriated what is ours, that which He works in us He ascribes to Himself.”

This is the great triumph of the Resurrection.  Christ has not only conquered death but in so doing we are co-conquerors with Him.  As Saint Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

About Father Alexios

Comments

  1. miladin says:

    Christ is Risen!

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