Reflection on Col 2:12Post date: 2017-07-29
Reflection on Col 2:12
The inspired original is in Greek. One can translate this deep truth in different ways. Eventually, however, the deep meaning can only be revealed by the Holy Spirit who is the Author. Saint Apostle Paul was a human co-author and an instrument of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit interprets the Scripture and leads us into its mystery; the same Holy Spirit who is the chief Author of the whole Scripture. We will try just to indicate certain spiritual depths of this Bible verse.
It says: “You were buried with Christ in baptism.” What does it mean? We all are alive. It does not mean physical burial as it was in the case of Jesus when He was placed in a stone tomb on Calvary, but it expresses the mystery of baptism grafting us on Christ and on all mysteries of our salvation. The same applies to the other truth saying that we were also raised with Him – with Christ. Again, it does not concern us physically as we have not yet died or been buried physically. This deep truth concerns us spiritually. So through baptism we have been grafted on Christ’s death and His burial which expresses the reality of Christ’s death. And we have also been grafted on Christ’s resurrection, that is, on a new life. We received this all in baptism. It is something like life hidden in a seed. Whether it is a grain of wheat or a seed of a fruit tree or a mighty beech tree, the grain crop or the tree are not yet seen at their full growth which they are to reach, but they are already here and only need conditions and time. And the same is true about us and the realization of the mystery of baptism. We are to be transformed into Christ by uniting our corrupt nature with Christ’s death through faith. It means, in fact, dying to our passions, manifestations of selfishness and evil, and above all, it means death and burial of the root of evil, the hotbed of evil in us, original sin or the so-called old self. The Word of God further says about it: “We know that our old self was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (Rom 6:6) And it also says here: “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6:4)
In the mystery of baptism, the work of Jesus’ death for our sake is accomplished on His part. We have been baptized into this reality. On our part, however, we must begin to live our own baptism, to actualize it. It means that when we unite by faith with the power of Christ’s death in relation to our corrupt nature, or in other words we actualize our baptism, at that moment we die together with Christ to our selfishness, our egocentrism, our pleasures and passions which enslave us and lead us away from salvation. We cannot do so by our own strength but only by faith in the power of Jesus’ death. This power of God, which works in us, is called the working of the Holy Spirit, or God’s grace. The Scripture says: “If you walk by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body.” So it does not say that we should put to death the manifestations of our poisoned nature by our own strength, but that we receive help by faith. We only need to cooperate with God’s power – that means, to walk in the obedience of faith, or in obedience to the Holy Spirit. It does not mean that we will not fall or lose. We will, but we must repent immediately and then through repentance we will receive more light and strength. And God gradually transforms us into Christ, as the Apostle says: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:19-20)
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth; He sets us free from the spirit of lies so that we are no longer inwardly identified with lies. It means that we begin to desire what God desires and to reject the deceit of the spirit of lies. It makes a great difference whether we fight by our own strength or allow the Spirit of truth to guide us into the truth. If the latter is the case, then we are set free from the inner bondage of lies.
So the obedience of faith plays the most important role in this mystery. The verse implies that it is a gift of faith which God awakens in us through the awareness that He raised Christ from the dead, and as for our part, we need to receive and cooperate with this faith. In fact, it is an art acquired by cooperating with the God-given faith. Our faith then grows, and we gain experience. And ultimately, faith as such is a condition not only of our salvation but also of our gradual transformation into Christ – that He may live in us, that He may be our Lord, that He may use our hands, feet, eyes, reason and will. Then the power of God will work through us despite our powerlessness. There is a certain mystery of growth, cooperation, following. Jesus speaks about a way, that means, about continual progress. Even though we fall on the way, we rise again; when we turn from the way, we return to it again. Jesus is the Way. The purpose of our life is to be transformed into Christ, as St John the Baptist expressed it: “I must become less and less, and He must become greater and greater in me.” (cf. Joh 3:30)
May the Lord grant to us a ray of light so as to reveal to us at least a little this deep mystery while we will repeat this word of life within the following 14 days.
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