Today we begin Lent, a period of forty weekdays and six Sundays leading up to Easter. And for Easter, the big thing for Christians has nothing to do with colored eggs or our finest clothing. For Christians the big thing about Easter is that they repeat their Baptismal promises. They renounce Satan and all his works.
Everybody who comes to church Easter Sunday will join in pronouncing those Baptismal vows, but some people will speak with sincerity, while others will just mouth the words. We should determine to be among the most sincere.
Let’s look forward to the night before Easter, thinking about where Jesus was then. Where was he? Well, he was in his tomb. For the first two centuries Baptism was only conferred on the night before Easter. For those gathered around the baptismal pool that pool stood for the tomb of Jesus.
Back then, the one presiding would repeat something that St. Paul liked to say. Paul would tell people that Jesus saved us by dying to sin. Jesus was like someone who had successfully given up smoking. By constant efforts he had conquered every temptation to sin, so it could be said that he died to sin..
The person to be baptized told himself something like this, “By going down into this pool that stands for Christ’s tomb I am promising to join him in dying to sin.” People like us who are already baptized make the same promise. That is our Easter duty.
In the first two centuries people not yet baptized were not allowed to attend the Consecration of the Mass. It was only after they were baptized that they could then move to the other room where the Easter Mass was to be offered.
As they were moving from the Baptism room to the Mass room they were met by the bishop who confirmed them. He would say something like this, “Receive the Holy Spirit into that part of your heart from which you have banished sin.” Your Lenten task is to push the pride, anger, lust, and greed from you heart, making room for Jesus to come and stay with you.