All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
In an episode of the animated television series The Simpsons, Homer Simpson’s unkempt children Bart and Lisa suffer from apparent neglect. As a result, they are sent to a foster home, ending up next door, at the house of Ned Flanders. Ned is a bit socially awkward. He’s also an honest, well-meaning, evangelical Christian whose spiritual zeal sometimes goes too far. When Ned discovers that neither Bart nor Lisa were baptized, he decides they need an emergency baptism.
Alarmed at hearing this, Homer and Marge rush to the Springfield River to stop Ned. Just as Ned is about to pour holy water on Bart, Homer shoves Bart over to prevent the water from hitting him. In the process the baptismal water douses Homer.
“Wow, Dad, you took a baptism for me,” said Bart. “How do you feel?” Homer, temporarily aglow from his accidental baptism, says something sarcastic about St. Augustine of Hippo and his conversion. Then he returns to his normal rivalry with his neighbor.
As this satirical story shows, there is nothing magical about baptism. That’s because baptism is a symbol of God’s claim on us and his Spirit’s gradual work in us. Still, knowing our baptismal identity affects us. It changes us—though not all at once—because God is faithfully at work in us. And, in his time, we “find ourselves” as God’s true sons and daughters.
Father, we are all in process. Please clothe us with your grace. Lead us by your Holy Spirit, we pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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