Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, V.D. (29th April, 2019) on the Gospel and the Memorial
(Monday of the Second Week of Easter)
Ps 2:1-9. (R. cf. v.13);
St Catherine was born at Siena in 1347. She became a member of the Order of St Dominic. Catherine was filled with an active love for God and neighbour: she strove to bring peace to the quarrelling factions and cities of Italy, and to restore the rights of the papacy, at that time in exile in Avignon. She was a contemplative and ascetic, and her many writings are remarkable for their spirituality and theology.
Topic: Unless you are BORN AGAIN.
In today’s gospel, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3; NLT). This reminds me of the mail from a friend September, 2016 requesting to know how true it is that one must be born again to be saved.
This is very true. However, the true meaning of being a born again eludes many. Nicodemus first sought the meaning of born again. Jesus said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (Jn 3:5). Again, we read from the gospel according to Saint Mark, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved...” (Mk 16:16). Therefore, being born again is synonymous with being baptized.
However, baptism goes with obligations. While giving mandate to His disciples Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20a).
That one after baptism fails to live out his/her baptismal vows does in no way prove that baptism is no longer the key to our salvation but that we must be careful. Thus, Jesus warns, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 7:21).
The apostles understood what one must do to be saved. When the jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30)”,
They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house...then he and his entire family were baptized without delay (Acts 16:31-33).
At baptism, we were buried with Christ into His death, so that ... we too might walk in newness of life, cf. Rom 6:4; Col 2:12. In sum, Saint Peter wrote, “Baptism... saves you” (1Pt 3:21).
Let us therefore confuse others no more. That one must be baptized again is heresy. We need to help all baptized live out their baptismal vows. And teach all who have not been baptized to accept Jesus Christ and be baptized.
Bible Reading: Acts 2:37-42.
Thought for today: Baptism... saves.
Let us pray: God, help us to live out our baptismal vows – Amen.
Saint Catherine of Siena – Pray for us.
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