Malankara World

Weekly Devotional

New Birth

by Fr. Dmitri, New Zealand

Saturday 14 August 2010 (8 Mesori; 8 Mesra)
Dormition Fast. Elthelwold Bp. of Winchester (984).

Mine are counsel and advice; Mine is strength;
I am understanding.
(Prov.8:14)

CONSIDER THIS:

You have become our intercessor, before God our Savior,
who became incarnate of You, for our salvation.
(Friday Theotokia)

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not
one of them is forgotten by God.
(Luke 12:6)

If I wash thee not, thou shall have no part with me.
Jesus says to Peter.
(John 13:7)

The spiritual life is transition from perfection to better
perfection.. It is always connected with growth.
(Pope Shenouda III)

We have always breathed Christ and believed in Him.
(Anthony the Great)

When He saw their faith, He said to Him, 'Man your sins
are forgiven you.'
(Luke 5:20)

Keep your tongue from evil. And your lips from speaking deceit.
(Psa. 34:13)

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all you lands, serve the Lord
with Gladness, come before His presence with thanksgiving.
(Psa. 98)

REFLECTION:

When we dedicate ourselves to Mary, we become instruments
in her hands, just as she is an instrument in God's hands.
Let us follow what she did while she was alive.

Dear Jesus, in all our Trials and difficulties, let us have recourse to You
and by Your intercession may we be comforted.
(Maximillian Kolbe.)

HOMILY:

THE NEW BIRTH:

Early in His ministry, Jesus revealed the way to enter God's eternal Kingdom. We must be "Born again", a birth from above realized by water and the Spirit. (John 3:3)

In His conversation with Nicodemus, Christ states, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (Jn. 3:5) From the beginning, the Church has recognized 'the water' to be the water of baptism, "the Spirit" to be the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the new birth consists of being joined to Christ in the water of Baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit through anointing or 'Chrismation'.

Salvation, then, is more than forgiveness of sins, more than mental acceptance of Christ and His teachings. For, in salvation, we are given union with God through Christ, a right and full relationship with the Holy Trinity, and the restoration of our full humanity. All these things are accomplished through the Incarnation, the union of God and man in the Person of Jesus Christ. Salvation, then, is founded on a substantial union of the believer with Christ in His full humanity, a flesh to flesh relationship. Our Holy Father St. Paul likens it to the joining of husband and wife (Eph. 5:23-32)

Throughout their epistles, the apostles remind us the new birth is necessary for salvation. We die to sin; then, buried with Christ and risen with Him, we are united to Christ and to His body, the Church. We are cleansed, justified, and sanctified-all in baptism, "the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:5) Without our repentance and faith, however, immersion in water would be of no effect.

Some Christians bypass baptism and stress only faith. Why is the mystery of the water necessary? Because just as Christ actually died on a cross, was buried, and rose again - all through His faith and God's grace - so we must actually be immersed in the sacramental waters of baptism, made effectual through our faith and God's grace.

The basic form of baptism is simple. The person to be born again, joined to Christ, is immersed in the water three times in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (see Matt.28:19) . The first-century Didache teaches, 'If you do not have running water, use whatever is available. And if you cannot do it in cold water, use warm. But if you have neither, pour water on the head three times--in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.'

In the new birth, a true mystery takes place. For in the Sacrament of Baptism, we die, going down into the water to be mystically united to Christ in His death, and we live again, rising up out of the water in His resurrected humanity. In short we are born again. To Thee be Glory and Praise, now and ever, unto Ages of Ages.

AMEN!

Today's Readings:

Evening: Psalm 4:3 &6-7; Matt.11:25-30.
Morning: Psalm 113:1-2; Mark 10:13-16.
Liturgy: Heb.11:32-12:2; 1 Peter 4:12-19; Acts 9:23-41.
Psalm 66:12-14; Gospel Matt.18:10-20.

Copyright DR

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