‘I desire to receive the grace of Christ, through which I may be reborn and freed from the ruin of my iniquities.’ These words are some of the most famous from the Acts of St Genesius, and they invite much prayer and meditation. At this point in his drama at first reading we may not be sure if this is his acting or an actual expression of Genesius's desire: has the Holy Spirit already struck? Have those lessons in the catechism class where he was doing his "research" produced unexpected fruit? The author of the Acts is sure the conversion has occurred for he writes: "Genesius replied, no longer pretending or making it up, but from a pure heart".
These words of Genesius bring us to reflect in the sacrament of Baptism - the most life changing event in our lives when we become the children of God, incorporated into Christ and into his Church. Genesius offers us some insights into the sacrament. It is, first of all, an encounter within which we receive the grace of Christ. Too often we lament how hard it is to be Christian - to live the moral teaching of the Church. We are all too familiar with Christians and even Christian ministers telling us that we cannot live to such high ideals: we have to compromise, we have to lower the bar, we are told. Such an attitude serves as a practical denial, in part, of grace: of that supernatural help which God gives us through the sacraments in general and Baptism in particular. Grace is offered to help us not only reach these standards and live these ideal; we need only accept it.
It is in this context - the context of grace, that we are reborn and freed from "the ruin of [our] iniquities". Baptism is an act of rebirth, born to a new life, a stronger life, a graced life, a Christian life in which God confers on us the help we need to overcome Original Sin and human weakness. Conquering it will take time, and it may be a struggle, but we have a mighty hero to help us - Christ, and powerful weapons to defend us - grace. We need only realise this, embrace grace and live.
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