1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians excites me today. He says, "Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." I have had numerous conversations about being servants, but today I find myself entertaining what it means to be a steward of the mystery of God. Paul adds that in order to be a good steward, you must be found trustworthy. Thus, when the Divine One finds us trustworthy, we are not only given understanding of the mysteries of God, but we are entrusted to be stewards of these mysteries. Perhaps it is where I am right now in my life but I find a lot of joy in this mystery and there seems to be a perpetual discovery of the mystery. I find it is complex while still being quite simple, much like the beauty of a single flower held against the background of the splendor of creation.
The baptisms we had at the parish last weekend are a perfect example of being stewards of the mystery of God. Here at St. Agnes we have a heated baptismal font which each baby is immersed in. Last Sunday morning, when I baptized the first child, all the young children who had gathered around the font let out in unison an audible, "Ahhhh". It wasn’t planned, nor was it staged. For them it was an expression which came from deep within them as they reacted to this mystery. They saw it before them and in unison; they expressed their reaction to the goodness of what they had just witnessed. The children got it, while many of the adults were thinking about something other than a baby being baptized into the mystery of God. I turned and gave the child back to his mother. I then received four month old Jack from his father. I held Jack up looking him straight in the eyes and asked him if he was ready, knowing he couldn’t speak in an audible voice. He just stared at me straight in the eyes. He never once squirmed nor did he display any fear. Three times he went into the water and three times I lifted him out and he never once broke eye contact with me. His eyes and my eyes were locked on to each other and he displayed incredible trust.
The image of a baby floating in the immensity of the font so beautifully reveals the first sacrament of initiation. For God’s grace is so immense and God’s generosity so vast! We are simply invited to float in it, and to know the truth of the psalmist, The Lord upholds my life. Each baby of course has their own personality, and each enters and leaves the baptismal waters in their own unique way. Some may be fearful and resist it from the beginning. Many will be scared when they go in but the warm water relaxes them and they are quite content in the water. Some cry only when I lift them out. And then there are babies like Jack, who without words say, "I’m not sure what any of this means, but I’m trusting here". How remarkably this parallels the way we as adults respond to God’s call. Some spend their life fighting it. Others relax with the process and find satisfaction in the mystery. And some, like Jack, just really trust God, but their eyes are fixed on something beyond. Then there is no place for fear. Watching Jack float in the large font changed my understanding of baptism. Floating in the mystery of God who upholds my life and knowing that all those who have gathered around support me, helps solidify a truth about trust. Yes indeed, I can float in this mystery of God’s grace. Undeniably, as Paul writes, "we are stewards of the mysteries of God".
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is the pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Louisville, Kentucky.