Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pax Sinica Article (Jan. 11)--- 洗禮 Baptism

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剛過去的主日,是「主受洗節」,標誌着聖教禮儀年曆「聖誕期」的結束,「常年期」的開始。「聖誕節」我們慶祝基督的降生,「主受洗節」我們則慶祝我們藉聖洗聖事而靈魂得到重生,皆因「主受洗」預象了我們的聖洗聖事。

耶穌受洗時出現了三個顯象:「天空開了」、「聖神降下」、「有聲音從天上發出」。我們受洗時,這三樣也奧妙地發生在靈魂上。

與基督同為繼承人

約旦河上空開了,讓我們記起在舊約中,天主曾把紅海的水和約旦河的水打開。天主選民在梅瑟領導下,走過紅海海床,脫離了埃及法老王勞役的枷鎖。四十年後,他們在若蘇厄領導下,走過約旦河河床,進入天主預許的福地。我們在接受聖水洗禮後,脫離了撒旦罪惡勞役的枷鎖,亦得進入天主預許的天堂福地。

耶穌受洗,「天空開了」,標誌我們藉着聖洗,與基督同為天國的繼承人。

既然成了基督的同繼承人, 我們就要堅信祂的真道,效法祂的德行, 並宣認對祂的信仰。

聖神的宮殿

「聖神降下」提醒我們創世紀(1:2)中描述「天主的神在水面上運行」,也叫我們憶起洪水過後,諾厄放出鴿子在水上飛翔。聖洗是新創造,讓我們潔淨的靈魂,變成聖神的宮殿,聖神降到我們身上,賜給我們天主的聖寵,使我們純潔如白鴿,同時也讓我們承受傾注的德行及聖神的七恩。

既然成了聖神的宮殿,我們就要尊重作為聖所的身軀,並忠於聖神的默啟。

天父的兒女

「有聲音從天上發出」,宣認耶穌為天父的愛子,我們藉聖洗,同為天父的兒女。耶穌因祂自己的本性是天主子; 而我們藉着聖洗,因聖寵而成了天父所鍾愛的兒女。

接受了聖洗的人,就以天主為父,以教會為母,而教會內的成員,就是兄弟姊妹。

聖洗在靈魂蓋上一個烙印,祝聖靈魂永屬天主,永為天父的兒女。在世上我們每星期七天,每天二十四小時都是天父的兒女!

既然成了天父的兒女, 我們就要孝愛天主,遵守祂的誡命。

基督徒的標記

十字聖號是基督徒的標記。它提醒我們基督徒的尊榮、名銜和本份。

尊榮: 基督在十字架上以祂的寶血及聖死付出了我們脫離罪惡及獲得重生的代價。

名銜: 我們是天父的子女,聖子的同繼承人,和聖神的宮殿。

本份: 作為主的門徒, 我們要步武被釘者基督。

我們進入聖堂時,蘸聖水劃十字聖號,要想起我們的聖洗及基督徒的身份。

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We celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord last Sunday. This Feast marks the conclusion of the Christmas season. On Christmas day, we celebrated the birth of Christ, and on the Feast of Baptism of Our Lord, we celebrated our own spiritual birth through baptism.

The baptism of Jesus is a figure, or type, of our own baptism. At Jesus' baptism, three things happened: the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended, and a voice from heaven spoke. The same happens, in a certain sense, at the Christian baptism.

Co-heir with Christ

The heavens opening above the waters of Jordan reminds us that in the Old Testament the waters were opened by the power of God. When Moses led the chosen people out of Egypt, the waters of the Red Sea were opened, and the people walked through the waters and were delivered from Egypt and from pharaoh. Forty years later, when the successor of Moses, Joshua, led the chosen people into the Promised Land, the waters of the Jordan River were opened for the people to walk through.

In baptism, we are freed, not from the slavery of Egypt, but from the slavery of sin, not from the tyranny of pharaoh, but from the tyranny of Satan. Also, through baptism we enter into the Promised Land of Heaven. Heavens opening symbolizes that through baptism, we become co-heirs with Christ of the heavenly kingdom.

Since we are co-heir with Christ, we should firmly believe in His doctrine. We should also imitate His virtues and profess our faith in Him.

Temple of the Holy Spirit

The Spirit descending reminds us that in the beginning, the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water (Genesis 1:2). It also reminds us that after the flood, Noah sent out a dove, which hovered over the water. Baptism is a new beginning and a new creation. Through baptism, a person is made a temple of the Holy Spirit, who descends into the soul, and by sanctifying grace, renders it pure and innocent as a dove. The infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are also bestowed to the soul at baptism.

Since we are temples of the Holy Spirit, we should respect His indwelling and be faithful to His inspirations.

Child of the Father

God the Father declared Jesus as His beloved Son. Baptism also makes us children of God. Jesus is the Son of God by nature, and we are sons of God by grace. The baptized becomes a child of God in whom God is well pleased.

A baptized person has God as his Father, the Church as his Mother, and fellow Christians as his brothers and sisters.

Baptism imprints on the soul an indelible character, which consecrates a person to God forever. We are children of God twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Since we are children of the Father, we must manifest filial love towards Him and respect Him by the exact observance of His commandments.

Sign of the Christian

The sign of the Christian is the sign of the cross. It reminds us of our dignity, titles, and duties as Christians.

Our dignity: it was on the cross and at the price of the blood and death of Christ, that we are redeemed from the slavery of sin and regenerated to supernatural life.

Our titles: we are children of the Father, co-heirs with the Son, and temples of the Holy Spirit.

Our duties: we should walk in the footsteps of Christ crucified, whose disciples we are.

We enter the church making the sign of the cross with holy water. This gesture reminds us of our own baptism and our identity as Christians.

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My Classroom Talk to High School Students:

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