Gospel: The Permanent Mark of Baptism

In the ancient world, a citizen of the Roman Empire was marked by the ring he wore. The ring of a Roman citizen implied certain responsibilities and privileges. Modern citizenship is readily proven by a passport or birth certificate. However citizenship is expressed, it is a sign that a person belongs to, or is identified with, a specific place and is entitled to certain rights and owes particular obligations. Each person who is baptized receives an indelible, that is, permanent mark on his soul. That mark shows that the baptized person is a citizen of the kingdom of heaven and an heir to the resurrection. From the moment the flowing water of the first sacrament of initiation begins it’s cleansing action, the baptized person receives a new vocation; the newly initiated is called to spend the rest of his life trying to reach his proper homeland of Heaven. This is a difficult task because the world represents many distractions and obstacles which conspire to take us off course from our journey home to the kingdom. Just as any citizenship implies certain responsibilities we know that, as citizens of heaven, we have the obligation to live as Christ wants us to live and we also hold the right that if we have done as the Lord has asked of us then we merit the reward of eternal life. Just as the stone was rolled away from the entrance of the tomb on the first Easter Sunday so too the heirs of heaven will be freed from their earthly bonds to rise with the resurrected Savior. At the time of Jesus, there were several different branches of Judaism. Among the many Jewish sects were the Sadducees; they were traditionalists who only believed in the first five books of the Torah and didn’t believe in angels or an afterlife. Jesus was in the Temple area and had been questioned by the Scribes and the Pharisees; the Sadducees who heard our Lord preaching decided to ask Him a trick question. One of them asked about a woman who had been married several times and inquired as to which one of her husbands would be the lucky spouse to be married to her after the resurrection. Of course, since they did not believe in heaven, there was no way that Jesus could answer the question correctly for them. The answer that Christ gave surely must have surprised them; He may not have answered them to their satisfaction, but He certainly responded to ours. Jesus went on to describe what those deemed worthy of the resurrection would be like in the kingdom of heaven, "They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise." For those who are faithful to our Lord, His worlds offer tremendous hope and reassurance. He reminds us that we are children of God and that we are created by Him to love Him and serve Him in this world so that we might be with Him forever in the next. Fr. Mullins is parochial vicar at St. Theresa Parish in Ashburn.

Copyright ?2001 Arlington Catholic Herald.  All rights reserved.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2001

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