Juan Ponce de Leon (whether he actually searched for the Fountain of Youth or not) will be forever remembered as the man who went on a futile mission. The search for eternal youth, whether in water or in an elixir of life, can seem pretty silly to us. Even the ancient Egyptians practiced the art of mummification in order to supposedly preserve the body for the after-life.
Today people are surely much more sophisticated and far too educated as to believe that such things could be found or thought to work, aren’t they?
On a highway just north of our city there is a billboard which states – 45 going on 35; listed next is information on some laser plastic surgery available. Perhaps you have heard the commercials that have an ecstatic mother stating how often she is mistaken for her daughter’s sister. Almost daily one is inundated with ads promising to erase age spots, reduce wrinkles, increase lost vim and vigor, keep one healthier and living longer. While life expectancy appears to be rising slightly these days, it’s dwarfed by the 900+ average lifespan of our pre-flood ancestors.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is important to take care of the gift of our body—we only get one. We should eat right and get plenty of exercise so we can be worthy instruments in the hand of our God.
However, since the fall into sin, we know that our physical journey from the moment of conception marches relentlessly toward the grave. If then the heartbeat heard and felt in our body is simply mimicking the muffled drumbeats of a funeral march, it isn’t difficult to see why so many try desperately to preserve or prolong their lives.
Yet, should our main aim and goal be to preserve and lengthen our lives for this world?
When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, the Lord in His mercy put them out of the Garden “lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22). God did not desire that we live forever in this world in our sin. He had a much bigger and more visionary plan for us—that we live forever with Him in a perfect paradise!
But perfection cannot and will not tolerate imperfection. Since one flaw ruins perfection, how could sinful human beings ever hope to enter such a place of wonder?
Our heavenly Father would give us the perfection needed. Jesus, the Christ, our God/Man elder Brother, kept the Law of God for us, living in a perfect harmonious relationship with His Father.
Besides, God demanded payment for mankind’s sins. If sinners were to escape hellfire, only blood, innocent blood, could pay the price. Every heinous act, every sinful thought, word, and deed had to be accounted for. Our righteous God unleashed His wrath upon the Lord Jesus who hung on the cross in our place. What an act of wonder and love!
The Spirit at Work!
But we are born dead in trespasses and sins. How can we come to know and believe this wonderful gospel?
God the Holy Spirit brings us the good news of Jesus’ sacrificial death in the Word of God and in Holy Baptism which is a life-giving water. By itself baptism is not some magical water that can cause our bodies to receive eternal youth, but through simple water used with the powerful Word of God we receive a miraculous rebirth of our spirit!
St. Peter tells us that the flood waters which rescued Noah and his family were saving waters. We in the New Testament have the anti-type (the real thing) “which now saves us – baptism … the answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21).
Speaking of the power of baptism, St. Paul says, “Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
Since our baptism has already transported us through death, how could we ever be afraid of death itself? We have died with Christ and through our baptism we are new creations able to serve our Lord and live with Him forever!
As people of this world scramble about desperately in their attempt to delay the aging process, we know the true cure for the deterioration of body and soul. In fact, as our body ages, vigor leaves, and senses begin to fail, may we all be reminded of our baptismal grace, the covenant sealed to us by our Savior God.
God’s grace, mercy, and love are eternal. What a wonder that even now we can start enjoying it while looking forward to the final consummation!
“Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children…” (Acts 2:38-39).
May that Holy Spirit richly bless and comfort each of us with daily remembrance of our baptismal grace.