Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In our catechism class we talk about two sacraments. The Catholic Church speaks of seven sacraments. Which is correct? Two or seven? The first question is, What is a sacrament?
The word "sacramentum" in Latin meant a solemn rite, but for us a sacrament is a means of grace, instituted by Jesus Christ, with the promise of forgiveness and eternal life linked with a visible element. So there are two, baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Of what St. Paul speak in our text for today?
"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And all ate the same spiritual food; And all drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. "
You will remember that the Lord sent Moses to the king of Egypt, Pharaoh, with the message, "Let my people go free". When Pharaoh rejected the message, God struck the Egyptians with 10 plagues. During the suffering from each plague, Pharaoh ordered freedom for the Israelites, but afterward changed his mind. Finally he left the people go free and the Israelites came to the shores of the Red Sea. However, Pharaoh changed his mind again and pursued them with his army. God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites crossed to the other side, led by God in the form of a pillar of cloud. Then the Lord closed the path to the Egyptians.
However, on the other side of the Red Sea the Israelites did not immediately discover the Promised Land. They did not reach the Promised Land before a journey in the desert that lasted many years. During this journey, God gave them and provided food in the form of manna and birds, but primarily in the form of manna, the bread that came down from heaven. And water from a rock. The people reached the Promised Land, but not everyone who started the journey reached the Promised Land.
How to apply this story to us? Paul makes a comparison, an analogy between our lives and the journey of the Israelites, the Exodus. We were born in bondage to sin and the power of the devil, We were far from God and without the power to reconcile ourselves to God. Because of baptism, God allowed us to cross to spiritual freedom. Christ promises us that in baptism we have the gift of the Holy Spirit and saving faith.
Baptism is the gateway to spiritual freedom for us, but we do not reach the Promised Land immediately. The Promised Land for us is eternal life with Christ in heaven. After baptism, we still have a journey in the desert, which for us is this world, before passing to eternal life. Also for this journey God provides spiritual food and drink, which is the Lord's Supper.
So in these verses Paul mentions the two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper, and their meaning for us. In the water of baptism we have the promise of the Holy Spirit and faith, and in the Lord's Supper, the true body and true blood of Christ to nourish us in our spiritual journey in the desert. But as in the Exodus story, not all who cross the sea and eat of the manna and drink of the rock of salvation will reach the Promised Land.
There is always the possibility of deviating from the faith and losing our salvation in Christ. Faith must be a living faith. The sacraments are not magic rites, which are made once, and afterward we do not have to be concerned with the temptations and snares of the devil. We are sinners until the death of the sinful nature.
Thus St. Paul speaks of the Christian life as an athletic competition, a race at the stadium. "Know ye not that they which run in a race, all the runners run, but one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” Let's get ready to win the prize, something very valuable for us as athletes in the stadium.
Eduar and Ignacio, on your football team, how do you win the competition? Without practice? Of course not. So we must be careful and practice what God has commanded of us to live as His children. To hear the Word and receive His gifts. First, the gift of faith in baptism and then the forgiveness of our sins the strengthening of faith in the Lord's Supper. As the Israelites in the wilderness received manna and water from the rock as gifts of God, to save their lives, we receive spiritual food and drink, which is Christ. And we do not neglect the hearing of the Word of God, but listen and apply it in our lives.
This is the Christian life and we can not do it by our own effort, but by the Holy Spirit who is active in preaching and the sacraments.
What does our Lord say in our Gospel for today (Matthew 20: 1-16)? "So the last shall be first and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."
That is, the Lord has called all to eternal life, but not all attain to eternal life because of their infidelity. The fate of unbelievers is eternal death, but for believers eternal life. Thank God that all of us here, listening to the word and receiving the sacrament, walk in the right way, and therefore, we have the hope and peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
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