In the Second Reading, Paul asks us the following question:
“Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
He went on to say, “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into his death.”
What was he talking about there? A century ago his meaning became clear. What clarified this a century ago was that archeologists unearthed a book on Christian ceremonies and Sacraments from the First Century.
That little book described how in the First Century Christians used the days of each calendar year to relive the life of Jesus. On Christmas they felt that he was being born again. On Ash Wednesday they went into the desert with him, They died with him on Good Friday, and they rose with him on Easter.
Now, in that sequence, on Holy Saturday they thought of him as lying in his tomb. And oddly, that was the only time of the year when they had baptisms. They prepared a water-filled pool that they thought of as the tomb of Jesus. Each person to be baptized saw his or her stepping down into that pool as his or her joining Jesus in his death and burial.
You and I were baptized on a day following shortly after our birth, and rather than our stepping down into pool, we had water pored on our heads. But the meaning of our baptisms is the same as what theirs were back then. By our baptisms we pledged to die to sin, so that we might live to Christ.