Sunday, November 9, 2008

Christianity Is An Affair of Things

It struck me today that Christianity is an affair of things: of bread and wine, of water, and of oil, and its beliefs are anchored in things and the actions that accompany their use.

Consider water: water was created at the very beginning of time, and in the book of Genesis it is written that the Spirit "was carried on the waters." Water was the first element to produce things that would live. It is not surprising, therefore, that water - ordinary water - used in baptism already knows how to give life. But there is more, through the presence of the Holy Spirit water - that was precious in itself - took on the ability to make holy.

In other words, as the important early father of the church, Tertullian wrote: "water acquires the mysterious power of conveying sanctity" (how foolish and impossible it is to be formed anew by water!).

Imagine: Christ submitted to baptism so that by his passion he might sanctify the water. Indeed, from the Jordan the grace of baptism is spread throughout the whole world.

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