Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call… Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. (Today’s First Reading)
There are news reports that Bibles are selling like “hot cakes” during this coronavirus crisis. “People are looking for hope,” says one headline. That can only mean that people are hungry, looking for answers that science, frankly, cannot give. As Pope Benedict XIV:
… those who followed in the intellectual current of modernity… were wrong to believe that man would be redeemed through science. Such an expectation asks too much of science; this kind of hope is deceptive. Science can contribute greatly to making the world and mankind more human. Yet it can also destroy mankind and the world unless it is steered by forces that lie outside it. —Spe Salvi, Encyclical Letter, n. 25
Clearly, we are living through a time when the experiments in our laboratories are becoming an experiment on the human race. Our trust in science and reason as a kind of savior has led to a false understanding of the human race, our dignity, and our relation to creation around us—not as something to abuse, but as an expression of God’s love and providence.
If you are searching right now for answers, it has been distilled down to today’s first Mass reading: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins.” That’s it; that’s the simple message of why Jesus came to earth, suffered, died and arose again: to save us from our sin which separates us from Him, to heal us from its effects, and restore us as sons and daughters by giving to us a divine gift: “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
If you are new to Christianity or have let your faith die out, and you are beginning to rediscover and search for that “purpose” for your life… then you are not reading these words by chance. Right now, where you are, you can simply repent of your past sins, no matter how dark they are, and ask Jesus to forgive you. He is waiting to do this. He died to do this! Then ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. If you are already a Catholic, seek out Confession where the Lord can restore your soul to the pristine state of baptism. For those who are not baptized, seek out a priest and tell him you wish to be so. Because of the current lockdown, though, this may be delayed for some time. However, Jesus knows your desire:
The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament… [Yet], the Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament. For catechumens(1) who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1257-1259
In other words, the most important thing today is that you make this act of faith and trust in God’s unfathomable love for you, and receive the sacraments when possible. For, as St. Paul says, “by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8).
Do not waste any more time—today is the day of salvation: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
- Catechumen: a person who is receiving instruction in preparation for Christian baptism or confirmation.