Scripture Reading — Colossians 1:21-29
I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions. — Colossians 1:24
During the time when St. Patrick was planting the faith in Ireland, Aengus was king of Munster. When Patrick arrived in Munster to preach, Aengus welcomed him into his royal residence. There Aengus came to faith in Jesus and asked to be baptized. Before a large gathering of his people, the Celts, Patrick baptized the king. During the ceremony, Patrick, without knowing it, drove the iron point of his staff through Aengus’s foot. The sharp pole remained there until Aengus’s blood trickled onto the floor. All the while the king remained silent, assuming suffering was part of the baptism.
One of the “marks of the true church,” said Martin Luther, is suffering. The true church suffers. Baptism helps us see that is how it has always been and will always be. Is it any surprise then that early churches shaped their baptismal font to look like a tomb?
The verb “to baptize” literally means to be drowned and saturated, or, more freely, to be submerged in the waters of chaos. Christians have always seen a direct link between baptism’s imagery and Jesus’ call to self-denial. We follow the One who gives himself away. In suffering, we live out our baptism; it shows our union with the dying and rising of Jesus. We receive and remember our baptismal suffering as a means God uses to nurture and sustain our faith.
Lord, we ask for a peaceful life. But when you call us to suffer, help us see it as part of our unity with you in bap-tism. Amen.