Choose a topic from Part 3a:

38. The Baptism of St. John the Baptist

1. St. John, called the Baptist because heperformed the ceremony of baptizing with water, was not following,in this matter of baptizing, any prescription of the Old Law. Hewas introducing something new. And this baptism of penanceconferred by St. John (son of Zachary and Elizabeth) was apt andsuitable because: (a) St. John was to baptize our Lord and thus tosanctify the ceremony of baptism; (b) he was to make manifest thedivinity of Christ when our Lord came to him to be baptized; (c) hewas to prepare men for the true baptism, that is, the sacrament ofbaptism, by making them familiar with the ceremonial part of it;(d) he was persuading men to do penance publicly and ceremoniouslyso that they might thus prepare for the worthy receiving of thebaptism of Christ.

2. The rite of St. John's baptism was from God. ForJohn was divinely sent to baptize, as we know from the Gospel (John1:33). But the effect of John's baptism was not supernatural.It had not the power to confer grace.

3. For grace comes to man only through Christ. Scripture(John 1:17) says: "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."The baptism of St. John the Baptist was a preparation for grace,but did not give grace.

4. The baptism of St. John the Baptist was properly givento others besides our Lord, for this ceremony existed not only tomanifest Christ on the occasion of his being baptized by John; itexisted also to prepare men by penance for the receiving ofChristian baptism.

5. Therefore, even after St. John had baptized Christ andhad professed his own faith in him, he continued to baptize. And hemade his ceremonial baptism of penance a means of sending people toChrist. For, as St. Bede the Venerable says, the forerunner ofChrist (that is, St. John the Baptist) could not properly ceasefrom his work until Christ was made fully manifest.

6. Of course, those who were baptized by John needed to bebaptized again with Christian baptism. John's baptism was not asacrament; it did not confer grace nor imprint a character. Johnthe Baptist said, "I baptize with water" (John 1:26); hedeclared himself, and implicitly his baptism, much less than Christand His works. Our Lord instituted the sacrament of baptism"of water and the Holy Ghost," and laid upon all thenecessity of receiving it. Scripturetells us that theapostles (Acts 19:1-5) administered the sacrament of baptism tothose who had already received the baptism of John.

"Spiritual persons ought to be equally ready to experience sweetness and consolation in the things of God, or to suffer and keep their ground in drynesses of spirit and devotion, and for as long as God pleases, without their making any complaint about it."
St Philip Neri

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"The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you."
Thomas á Kempis

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"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis

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