As Many as have been baptised into Christ …

Bishop Seraphim : Article
As Many as have been baptised into Christ …
[Published in the “Canadian Orthodox Messenger”, Summer 1998]

“As many as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia” (see Galatians 3:27). This is our liturgical theme at baptisms, and at the great baptismal feasts through the year.

Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). This a priest says every time he puts on his priestly Cross, and this is what is said when the Holy Cross is placed upon the neck of a newly-baptised person.

This putting on Christ, this taking up of the Cross, is a serious matter. It is not merely an abstract concept. It is, as the Lord Himself directed, something concrete. Perhaps we do not have our bodies pierced with nails, but we do, for the sake of Christ, bear the slings and arrows daily of the unbelievers, and as much to the point, the attacks of the bodiless evil powers. Because we encounter this on a daily basis all our lives for the sake of the love of Jesus Christ, it is necessary that we keep ourselves aware of who we are, and to Whom we belong.

You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). We need to remember this ourselves, constantly. Our freedom is not cheaply acquired. While we may be tempted daily, and while we may fall daily, it is this redemption which we must constantly remember, because our only hope after falling is the love of the Saviour. It is only in imitating the Prodigal Son (see Luke 15:11-32), remembering the love of the Father and deliberately returning home, that we may be reunited to our true home, and return to being our true selves.

It is very disappointing, then, that as I travel across the diocese, I notice that some persons neglect to wear their baptismal Cross. I can notice, of course, because of open shirts. The baptismal Cross is not a piece of jewellery. Once the baptismal Cross is put on (especially once one is old enough to be capable of walking), it should be worn always. If it should be lost or stolen, it should be immediately replaced. It need not be of expensive metal. It could even be of wood.

The Holy Cross should be worn at all times by the believer, not so much as a sign to others but as a sign to oneself : a perpetual reminder to ourselves that we do not belong to ourselves (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). We have been baptised into Christ ; we belong to Christ. We have put on Christ, and we must always be repenting, turning to Christ. We must be daily denying our selfish desires, and seeking to do Christ’s will, to love as He loves, to serve as He serves.

Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34).