Wearing Brand Names (10.8.1016)

As far back as I can remember I had a love-hate relationship with buying brand name stuff.  I knew it was important to some people whether your shirt had a little bird on it or if you really liked these Abercrombie and Fitch people.  Now that I am older, I only wear name brands if they come from the thrift store (I’m doing what I can to rock my dad-style).  However, I find myself torn about brand names when I get sent on food retrieval missions or grocery store runs when I’m not feeling imaginative.  I also struggle with what brand is better when buying power tools and the like.  And I am persnickety about my paint brushes.  I want Purdy or I don’t want it.  I’m sure I’m not the only who struggles with the question “In what should clothe myself?”  Our first reading gives us the answer.

In today’s first reading St. Paul wrote, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”  To our modern sensibilities, this means we have bought into the brand name.  Through our Baptism, we are supposed to be a walking billboard for Jesus.  We don’t have to be obnoxious like Abercrombie and Fitch.  It might be more synonymous with the North Face logo on someone’s back shoulder or the Hollister bird where a pocket should be.  Either way, we should be about Christ and for Christ.  We should swear by Christ’s reliability and staying power with more zeal than people talk about Toyota or Honda.  I should be as ready to make the investment for Christ as I am for a Purdy brush.  We should be all in for Christ.  And that is just the connection from our modern perspective.

When we look at the ancient connection we remember that clothing was not a loose insinuation of status, but a declaration.  Today I can wear nice clothes and not have status, but in the ancient world, your clothes communicated who you were, what your standing was, and how you should be treated.  Paul declares Christ the great equalizer.  When we are Baptized, we are clothed in Christ.  We become co-heirs to the throne.  We share Christ’s mantle of priest, prophet, and king.  It doesn’t eradicate the structure of the society in which we live but does place a demand upon how we see one another.  Paul essentially tells us that our first impression of another Baptized Christian should be Jesus.  Here is a person to whom I must be Christ and a person who can be Christ to me.

In Baptism, we are clothed in Christ.  It is a marvelous gift of grace that demands a costly lifestyle.

Appendix 1 – A Practice Inconsistent with “Earning” Salvation: Infant Baptism

Catholics are often accused of teaching a works based Gospel in which one must earn God’s grace and love.  Yet, we take the least capable of earning anything (except maybe by their cuteness) and entrust them to the bountiful grace and mercy of God.  We do this because we know salvation comes from the grace bestowed upon us by the mysterious promises of God. Catholics even get the word for sacrament from this.  Sacramentum (oath) is one of the two Latin words that was used to translate the Greek word musterion.  The other latin word is mysterium, meaning mystery.  The sacraments are mystery and oath, a reality captured by the East calling them the mysteries and the West calling them the Sacraments. [27]

We do this in harmony with the early church:

St. Irenaeus (disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of St. John, you know the guy who wrote about being born again by water and spirit) – “Christ came to save all through Himself; all I say, who are born anew (or baptized) through Him – infants and little ones, boys and youths, and aged persons” (Lib. II. adr. Haer.).

Origen – “The Church received from the Apostles, to give baptism even to infants” (In Ep. ad Rom.).

An African Council in 253 attended by St. Cyprian in response to the question of whether to wait until at least the 8th day after birth to Baptize – “As to what regards the baptism of infants, … we all judged the mercy and grace of God should be denied to no human being from the moment of his birth.  If even to the greatest delinquents the remission of sins is granted, how much less should the infant be repelled, who, being recently born according to Adam, has contracted at his first birth the contagion of the ancient death” (Epis. ad Fidum).  (The above quotes were taken from James Cardinal Gibbons’ book Faith of Our Fathers (1917) pages 221-222.)

Next Post:
Appendix 2 – Appeal to Tradition: the Trajectory of the Shots Fired over the Canon of Scripture

27. https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/sacraments_in_scripture.htm

A Princess and a Daughter

My daughter Hosanna got baptized today!  My wife and I are so privileged to have this opportunity to entrust Hosanna to the Lord.  It is easy to be intimidated by the prospect of raising our child in the faith.  The journey would be especially wrought with anxiety if we had to do it by our own strength or on our own.  With Baptism those anxieties a manageable.  They are tamed by our faith in the grace poured out upon Hosanna at her Baptism; by the Church claiming her for the Lord and coming around us to support us; by the Father’s adoption of her as a daughter and her sharing in the royal ministry of Jesus.  There are so many other things at work, but it is through our readings that I’d like to lead our reflection to Jesus’ royal ministry and why we will always raise our kids in the faith.

A friend once hypothetically asked, “Why don’t we just let our kids decide for themselves?  Why do we raise them in a faith, instead of letting them get older and then choose?”  I think it is a fair question, and there is some merit to the fact that at some point parents need to respect their child’s growing agency… preferably before they are 40 or so.  However, I think this line of questioning betrays a view that diminishes God’s active role.

God has established a Kingdom and family.  Solidarity helps us recognize that we are one human family, but Christian solidarity goes a step further, we are one, adopted, covenantal family.  We are citizens of a kingdom not of this world.  The fulfillment of that kingdom is alluded to today at the end of our passage from Daniel.  That kingdom is both now, and not yet.  When we become complacent in the now, questions like the one posed by my friend become very natural and almost virtuous, but today’s Gospel calls us to remember the not yet.  We are called to be vigilant, to be watchful for the fulfillment of the Kingdom.

This is why we will raise our children in the faith.  They were born as Americans and unless they move as an adult they’ll be Americans.  They were born as Hargadons and unless they disown us as adults they will be Hargadons.  Hosanna will be baptized a citizen and heir of the Kingdom of God and we will always help her walk that road because we believe that God made this accessible through Baptism because He chose her before we ever met her.

“Lord, please comfort all Christian parents, let them know Your presence and Your guiding hand in the lives of Your children.  Help us to raise disciples that only reflect us in so much as we reflect You.”

Holy family of Nazareth, Pray for us.

Guest Post: Born From Above, Here on Earth

A Reflection on the Readings for Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter

What if we read today’s readings in the opposite order: the gospel of John first, then the Acts of the Apostles?

In the gospel, we are listening to Jesus’s conversation with Nicodemus, a Pharisee, the kind of guy who really likes the rules, and really likes to understand how God works, so he can do his religious duties exactly right.  Along comes Jesus, telling him something baffling: he needs to be “born from above,” or “born again,” as we heard in yesterday’s reading.  Nicodemus doesn’t get it.  An important question for you and I is, do we get it? Continue reading “Guest Post: Born From Above, Here on Earth”