5 Easter, Year A: Newborn Infant

Sunday’s Readings | 5 Easter, May 7

Acts 7:55-60
Ps. 31:1-5, 15-16
1 Pet. 2:2-10
John 14:1-14

In a liturgical cadence of softly spoken words or the ethereal beauty of ecclesiastical chant, we say what almost cannot be expressed. We give voice to our deepest fears. Pensively guarding our emotions, we announce to each other and the living God our need for refuge, deliverance, a strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, a crag, a stronghold. We confess we fear a “net that is hidden for me.” We plead for “a tower of strength” against “my enemies and persecutors” (Ps. 31:1-5, 15-16). We know the enemy — “Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God, … the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God, … all sinful desires that draw [us] from the love of God” (BCP, p. 302). The world is wonderfully made and hauntingly beautiful — and, at the same time, diseased with dangers.

Easter makes us new beings. Life starts over, and so we are “like newborn infants” who need protection and who “long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it [we] may grow into salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2). Like infants, we turn, in complete vulnerability and amid perils, to Christ for all maternal care: for protection and food and love and comfort. And, indeed, Christ speaks to us words of most tender affection, saying that we are “chosen” and “precious” as he is chosen and precious to his Father in heaven. He says we are “royal” and “holy” and “his very own.” He looks upon us as if we are the center of the universe, and lavishes us with an endless, flowing stream of love. He draws us into his marvelous light, into green meadows of lucid mercy (1 Pet. 2:2-10). We are in the bosom of the Son as the Son is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18). 

In this way, our visceral human needs and all our fears are met with the embrace and safekeeping of love beyond all knowing. Slowly, we learn the way of Christ. As we look at the Son, we see the Father’s countenance, the presence from which we come, and the “dwelling place” to which we journey. We know the way we are to go; we sense the truth in which there is no falsehood; we progress toward our end, everlasting life. Incredibly, the works of Christ, which are the works of the Father, are unleashed in our lives as we grow in grace and abound toward glory (John 14:1-10).

I have learned the process. “Faith is the womb that conceives this new life, baptism the birth by which it is brought forth into the light of day. The Church [Christ being the Maternal Head of the Church] is its nurse; her teachings are its milk, the bread from heaven is its food. It is brought to maturity by the practice of virtue; it is wedded to wisdom; it gives birth to hope. Its home is the kingdom; its rich inheritance the joys of paradise; its end, not death, but the blessed and everlasting life prepared for those who are worthy. … In this new creation, purity of life is the sun, virtues are the stars, transparent goodness is the air, and the depths of the riches of wisdom and knowledge the sea, the divine teachings are the grass and plants that feed God’s flock … the keeping of commandments is the fruit borne by the trees” (Gregory of Nyssa, Oratio 1 in Christi resurrectione). Gradually, we are so fitted to Christ that we seem to disappear; thus, our lives are hidden with God in Christ.

Oh, what blessed dependency!

Look It Up: Acts 7:55-60

Think About It: In his death, Stephen is conformed to Christ in explicit detail.


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