Throughout these weeks of Easter we begin our celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with an act of penitence, recalling the baptism which has united those of us who are called “Christian” with the very person of Christ. By our sprinkling with holy water and the words of the chant of the Vidi aquam, we are reminded of the cleansing from sin which is the fruit of baptism, by which the guilt of original sin is taken from us and the life of Christ implanted. In baptism we have become one in Christ’s mystical body, the Church, and are literally incorporated into his life; caught up in the selfless relationship of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity recalled in the very formula used to administer the sacrament: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.
This homily was given at Old Saint John’s, Silver Spring, Maryland, at a Missa Cantata in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite:
This third Sunday of Lent focusses somewhat on the spiritual warfare, of which we first spoke on Ash Wednesday. In the offertory antiphon at that Mass we recalled the words of Psalm 29, ‘Thou hast taken me under thy protection, and baulked my enemies of their will’. Today, we assess the progress of our campaign against sin and the devil, as we hear of the miracle of the Lord and his mastery over evil.
In presenting these readings the Church guides both those preparing for baptism at Easter, and those – already initiated into her life – who are called in this holy season to return to God’s friendship. Each of us, in these forty days, is challenged to bring ourselves into a deeper and more profound relationship with the Lord and his holy Church, by relying more and more on his grace, and less on our own strength. We are to turn away from our own desires, and desire only the life of Christ for ourselves and the world, in order that we might be made ready for the life of the world to come.