What is happening to me?
St. Paul begins Romans 6 with insights into baptism.
‘Baptise’ comes from the Greek, meaning ‘to plunge,’ ‘to immerse.’ We are ‘plunged,’ ‘immersed’ into Christ’s death and resurrection.
What does this mean?
Christ’s death is a unique death. It is not a natural death, but a ‘death to sin’ – a death to all that ‘separates’ us from God.
Baptised into Christ’s death, we die to sin. And we receive the call to die to sin. Dying is a process that ends in death. So, dying to sin takes time.
Bad habits, addictions and even grave sins, can’t always be put to death immediately. Like almost everything in life, sin dies a slow death. But this dying does require our co-operation.
Baptised into Christ’s resurrection, we rise with Jesus. The Father raises Jesus to himself. So, too, after dying to sin, we are raised by the Father. Our call is to ‘walk’ in the light of Christ.
But we are not resuscitated. We are resurrected. Christ lives within us and so we can ‘walk the way of the Lord’ with a certain ease and enjoyment. Moral do-gooders we are not.
Is there a word that would adequately describe the meaning of Romans 6? It may well be ‘together.’
Eminent biblical scholar, Henry Wansbrough OSB (Ampleforth Abbey, UK), observes:
Paul coins a whole series of new words beginning with ‘syn-’ (a formation similar to ‘synchronized’ or ‘synthetic’) to show how our life is merged into Christ’s.
The most expressive of all is that we are synphytoi with Christ: this word is used in medical terminology to express how two parts of a broken bone grow together again and merge into a bond stronger than the original.
By my baptism into Christ’s death, his death becomes mine. Christ’s story becomes my story. Christ’s strength becomes my strength. Christ’s body becomes my body. Christ’s risen life becomes my risen life.
So, what is happening to me – to us?
We are slowly, but most assuredly, being moulded into Christ’s life, death and resurrection.
Our baptism is working away mysteriously. We may not understand this most of the time, but we don’t need to.
We need only trust in God and in those who accompany us – the Christian community.