The man made from the earth is the pattern of those who belong to the earth; the man from heaven is the pattern of those who belong to heaven. How is it that these last, though they do not belong to heaven by birth, will yet belong to heaven, men who do not remain what they were by birth but persevere in being what they have become by rebirth? The reason is, brethren, that the heavenly Spirit, by the mysterious infusion of his light, gives fertility to the womb of the virginal font. The Spirit brings forth as men belonging to heaven those whose earthly ancestry brought them forth as men belonging to the earth, and in a condition of wretchedness; he gives them the likeness of their Creator. Now that we are reborn, refashioned in the image of our Creator, we must fulfil what the Apostle commands: So, as we have worn the likeness of the man of earth, let us also wear the likeness of the man of heaven.I suppose that there are few modern preachers who would be so explicit in their imagery when preaching about baptismal regeneration. (When did you last hear a sermon about that?) An exception would be the late Dominican theologian Fr Herbert McCabe who rather provocatively defended the superiority of Pius XII's renewed Easter Vigil over that of Paul VI because the former brought out more clearly the aspect of the paschal candle bringing fertility to the womb-like baptismal font which gives birth to believers. Now, I suspect some of my readers may well be raising an eyebrow at that, but St Peter Chrysologus and Fr McCabe do well in provoking us to consider what new life our baptism has given us and whether we really do consider ourselves as having been 'born again' by virtue of that sacrament.
Now that we are reborn, as I have said, in the likeness of our Lord, and have indeed been adopted by God as his children, let us put on the complete image of our Creator so as to be wholly like him, not in the glory that he alone possesses, but in innocence, simplicity, gentleness, patience, humility, mercy, harmony, those qualities in which he chose to become, and to be, one with us.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Today's Office of Readings
Today's reading from St Peter Chrysologus is particularly striking: