Fourth Sunday of Easter – Year C
May 08, 2022 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Acts 13:14;43-53 | Psalm 100:1-3;5
Revelation 7:9;14b-17 | John 10:27-30

+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

The pain, suffering, and hurt in our world today, especially in Ukraine, is impossible not to notice and pray for these poor suffering people.  It is during these intense times of struggle that we need to rely on God, the Good Shepherd, to deliver us from our pain and troubles.

One of our greatest challenges in life is waiting for God to answer our prayers.  Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury states,  “God’s mysterious ways are appealed to when we can’t understand things and are encouraged to think about the vast gulf that separates us from God.

God’s purposes are not tied to the machinations of dictators, human rights abusers, terrorists, or serial liars.   God’s purpose is peace and love.  The world God has made is designed to become a reconciled world, a world in which human communities come to the conviction that God has acted to set them free from fear and guilt.”  According to Williams, “God doesn’t choose to do His word with the tools of the devil, and Putin is a “tool” of the devil.

In our second reading from Revelations, John tells the people who have survived great distress, torment, and persecution that their survival was not an accident.    They survived because God protected them from harm.  You can hear God’s promise in the words, “God will lead them to springs of life-giving water and God will wipe away tears from their eyes.”

As Jeremiah prophesized in the Old Testament   Jesus is Our Savior sent by God to establish a new covenant where all people shall be God’s people and Jesus Christ shall be their God.

Our first reading from Acts tells how Jesus came for all people on earth although some acknowledged His Mission and elected to follow Him before others encountered His saving grace.

In today’s Gospel from John, we are called by Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to be the sheep of God.  In baptism,   we become united with Jesus.  We are anointed with water which gives us new life through Jesus.  The baptismal font is the pool of water in which we become the sheep of the Good Shepherd, Jesus.

Today, Alexa and Christopher will begin their new life with Jesus forever.  In the waters of baptism, we are born a second time: born from above, a spiritual rebirthing.

At baptism, we become prophets of God as one who reveals God’s will to others and one who calls our evil.  We become priests with a small “p.” The essence of priesthood is to facilitate a relationship between God and others through yourself; something everyone can do.  We all excel at something, whether it is by physical abilities, mathematical ability, musical ability, artistic ability, and similar.

At baptism, we become inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Forgiving others as God forgives us becomes a reality as we are united with Jesus.

The baptismal covenant we will recite today commits all Christians to live out their baptism in their daily lives.  The questions and answers of the covenant lay out a basis for living the baptismal life.

Baptism is a sacrament of initiation, cleansing, strengthening, and welcoming.  Baptism welcomes us into the community of Christian believers and offers us a new life in which we become children of God and followers of Jesus.  Baptism is the beginning of our spiritual journey that leads us to salvation and eternal life with God.

When the Sign of the Cross is traced on the forehead of the one being baptized, this ritual expresses the mystery of the Cross as the basis of our faith.

With the pouring on of water of the one being baptized, we experience the death of Jesus and rise with Him to enter into a new life.  Just as Moses led the Hebrews on their escape from Egypt and how he parted the waters of the Red Sea as a gateway to liberation from slavery into the Promised Land.

The words spoken at Baptism, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” reveal that God in the Trinity is the source of life and now our life’s mission.

The white garment expresses we “become like Jesus” with our new pure identity as a child of God.

The baptismal candle which is lit from the Easter candle represents the true light of Jesus to guide us throughout life. Baptism reminds us that even though we are dirty, or dead with sin, God makes us clean and alive.  Even though we are empty and dry, God fills us with the living water of the Holy Spirit.

The water in baptism is tied to both life and death.  The baptized enter cosmically and bodily into the very life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.  A person is washed clean from sin and given a new life in the Mission of Jesus.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father,

As Alexa and Christopher take the step of baptism today,

We ask that you lead them onward into the long journey to which you have called us all.

Father, the step of baptism is one of the most important moments in our Christian walk.

Help Alexa and Christopher to approach this act of dedication with clear hearts and minds.