What happens when you are baptized:
1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.65 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.
1264 Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, “the tinder for sin” (fomes peccati); since concupiscence “is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ.”66 Indeed, “an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”67
In case you are new here to the parish or just coming to the parish, welcome to Holy Family. My name is Fr. Michael Denk. I am one of the associates here. This is Fr. Andy Gonzales. He is another associate. Our beloved pastor Fr. Paul Rosin is at St. Andrew’s, which is another parish we are running. Deacon John Green is with us as well. I also want to introduce to you Adam. Adam helped start the fire tonight. I was so excited. He is a fireman, so it was really safe. Adam is the new Adam. Unlike the first Adam who lives without original sin, Adam is living with the experience of original sin. His wife can tell you that, right?
We are all living in this post, original-sin world. In the first reading, we hear of Adam and Eve and about God creating the entire universe. Adam and Eve got to experience the world without sin. This world without evil. This world without illness and this world without death. I have something exciting to tell you. We are going to have a major fire here at the parish. Adam does not know this yet. We are inviting everyone up to the parish and we are going to have a big mask burning party to burn all of our masks when we no longer have to wear them. Yes, I am ready for it. You react like me. Some of us are sick of the masks but, thank God, we are here together. Last year we were not here. We did not get to celebrate together. We were not here together to celebrate the Easter Vigil, so we are blessed to be here in person.
The reality is that this virus is still going on. We are a year into it and thinking, “When is this going to end?” At least, I am thinking that. I remember I was frustrated about six months ago, and I was complaining. I have a friend who I went to grade school with, and he is now a research scientist. That is what he does for a living. He is a total nerd. He loves all this research. I said to him, “It is so frustrating. We feel like we hear something different every day. I do not think that anybody knows what they are talking about. We do not know what we are doing.” He said to me, “Well, you are right, Father.” I said, “What do you mean? You are a scientist.” He says, “No, that is what science is. We come up with a hypothesis, then we come up with another theory or idea, then we come up with another theory and then we come up with another hypothesis.” He said, “Science is always learning, and science is always trying to build and to come up with the latest thesis, then the next thesis and then the next thesis. We are constantly learning.” He said, “Father, if nothing else, I think we should really appreciate science.” He is a scientist, so he would say that. He also said that we are also seeing the limitations of science. Science can only do so much.
We are a year into this, and we do not have a vaccine, we some have vaccines, but no vaccine that is 100% that is able to cure and protect everybody. We do not have it. The next thing they were hoping for is herd immunity. We have some kind of herd immunity, but guess what happens after that? Some kind of variant comes out. Before you know it, we are never going to be free from this and that is extremely frustrating and very disappointing. It is good that we have science helping us. We are a church of faith and reason. A church that believes in science. We can work on this together to bring about the good of all, but it is also a reality that we are realizing the limitations of us.
Ever since original sin, we have been susceptible to sickness, to disease, to sin, and ultimately to death. That is what happened with original sin. Jesus came into our world as an infant, and then he went about doing these wonderful miracles. To display whom He was, He would suffer the passion, He would die on the cross, He would be buried in the tomb and then He would rise. In that moment, in that Paschal Mystery, He would destroy forever this pattern of sin. Those of you to be baptized in just a few moments will be totally and absolutely washed free from original sin. So amazing. You are going to be given this wonderful gift. The antidote to sin is Baptism.
After Baptism, we still struggle with concupiscence, which is a susceptibility to sin. We still have this ability to attract sin. We still have this susceptibility to fall into Satan’s traps. The horrifying thing about sin is that it is extremely insidious. Satan is even more cunning than the virus. Satan can find even more ways and different varieties and more deadly of ways of getting to us. How do we keep safe from sin? How do we protect ourselves spiritually? We have been hyper vigilant about the virus. People are wearing masks and are staying 6 feet apart.
We are doing everything we are told, but what does that mean for us spiritually? Ultimately, that is what the sacraments are for. The sacrament of Baptism brings you into the church. You are washed clean from original sin. You will be sealed with all the fruits and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. You will also receive Eucharist today. Jesus in you. That is ultimately the only way for us to enter into eternal life. We also have the sacrament of healing when you do enter into sin. When we do find ourselves moving away from God, the church gives us the beautiful sacrament of Reconciliation that hopefully we all participated in this last Lent. Then when we are dying, we can receive the Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist. All of these are given to us to safeguard us and to protect us from sin so that one day we may enter into eternal life.
Here is something that the rest of the world does not know. We need Jesus to inherit eternal life. The world has come to believe that it is just something that happens to us. The world has come to believe that there is no necessary means of needing to know Jesus or God to inherit eternal life, but Satan is completely deceiving us and taking us off course. When you think about vaccines, you might have to take three or four of them. We come to Mass every Sunday. When we come to Mass every Sunday as a community, we have another week where we can be totally free from sin. Every time we receive Eucharist, we are completely washed and freed of sin.
We hear in the gospel today about the two women who came to the tomb. They were going there, and they had their heads down. They are thinking to each other, “How are we going to roll away this stone?” So, they are thinking like scientists. They are thinking about how they can physically roll away the stone. They are only thinking in earthly ways, in a material way. Then, when they get to the stone, something amazing happens. God has already removed it. There is a beautiful line that says, “They look up and they see the angels.” The angels tell them to go back to Galilee and tell other people. It is like we are at the empty tomb right now in this church. Jesus is risen. Right now, we get to experience that in the receiving of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus. The amazing thing is there are so many people out there that do not know Him. There are so many people out there that are trapped in sin. It is for us to go forth and invite them back to Our Lord, back to Galilee, back to experiencing all the miracles so that they too can experience the suffering, the death and the resurrection.
Just as frustrated as all of us are with masks (and I am really going to have a mask burning party), we should be just as more frustrated with sin and any participation of that in our lives and do everything we can to come to know Our Lord and to remain with Him. For those of you that are to be baptized in a few moments, you are going to experience that in a whole new way. As the rest of us in this church renew our baptismal promises here tonight, we renew our faith. Our sins are forgiven, and we once more are protected and brought into the kingdom of all of the children of God.