Yes, Jesus Baptized

I am a new subscriber to This Rock, and I’ve found it to be very interesting reading. I would like to add a comment to Peggy Frye’s excellent response to a reader’s question about the necessity of baptism. 

In the "Quick Questions" section of the July-August issue, a reader asks "When I tell my non-Catholic friends that baptism is necessary for salvation (John 3:5), they usually bring up the fact that there’s nothing in the Bible indicating Jesus baptized anyone."

Not true. Reading a few verses further into the Gospel of John, one comes to the following passage:

Later on, Jesus and his disciples came into Judean territory, and he spent some time with them there baptizing. John too was baptizing at Aenon near Salim where water was plentiful and people kept coming to be baptized. John of course had not yet been thrown into prison. A controversy about purification arose between John’s disciples and a certain Jew. So they came to John, saying, "Rabbi, the man who was with you across the Jordan—the one about whom you have been testifying—is baptizing now, and everyone is flocking to him." (John 3:22-26, NAB) 

Although not mentioned in the synoptic Gospels, these verses in John’s Gospel provide us with clear evidence that Jesus’ ministry did, for at least a short time, include baptizing.

— Joseph J. Smagala, Jr.
Russellton, Pennsylvania

Easter or Good Friday?

In the May-June 2008 issue, in the Quick Questions section, Fr. Serpa wrote, "Jesus did not redeem us on Easter Sunday." According to Scripture and The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Resurrection of Christ was indeed redemptive.

Romans 4:25 says Jesus "was raised for our justification." St. Paul goes so far as to say that our faith is empty and in vain and we are still in our sins if Christ was not raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:12-19). Although paragraph 517 of the Catechism says, "Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross . . . ," it and paragraphs 519, 654, and 977 all confirm that Christ’s Resurrection is part of his redemptive work for us.

Wouldn’t it be more correct to say that, "Jesus redeemed us above all by his cross, but also by his Resurrection on Easter Sunday"?

— Deloris Gross
Coon Rapids, Minnesota

Fr. Serpa replies: I deliberately stated that Jesus did not redeem us on Easter Sunday but on Good Friday because there is a tendency among some in the Church today to de-emphasize Good Friday in favor of Easter Sunday. We see this in the replacing of the crucifix with a representation of the risen Christ in many of our churches.

I agree with St. Paul: We can all surely say that our faith is empty and in vain and we are still in our sins if Christ was not raised from the dead ( 2 Cor. 15:12-19 ). But this is dependent on the fact that he did indeed die. Since Jesus died on Good Friday, his Resurrection was inevitable because he is in fact God. Easter Sunday confirms this and the fact that we have truly been redeemed. But Jesus did not redeem us by his Resurrection. He redeemed us by his death! Without his death, there could be no Resurrection. As the Catechism states: "Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ" (2020).

More Advice for New Apologists

In the "Quick Questions" section of the April 2008 edition of This Rock, Peggy Frye answers a question about getting started as an apologist. Although her answer was fine, suggesting the "Apologist’s Bookshelf" and beginning in one’s parish, I think that it is important to emphasize the importance of a deep prayer life and commitment to personal holiness to successful apologetics and evangelization. This will keep the apologist focused on the goal of winning souls rather than arguments, and help keep one’s personal pride out of the discussion.

— Ellen Iannoli
Rochester, New York

The Latin Spirit

In the liturgy, the celebrant says "The Lord be with you," and the congregation responds, "And also with you."

In the April 2008 issue, Jim Blackburn, in answer to a question about the sign of the cross before the Gospel reading, answers that at the ambo the priest says, " Dominus vobiscum (The Lord be with you), and the people respond, Et cum spiritu tuo (And also with you)."

Though I’m no Latin scholar, I’ve felt our English response in the vernacular Mass has been mistaken, and the literal translation of the Latin from the old Mass should be "And with your spirit."

Am I missing some Latin subtlety here?

— Margaret E. Mathers
Farmington, New Mexico

Jim Blackburn replies: The instructed responses of the people at both the introduction to the Gospel reading and the preface to the Eucharistic prayer (as well as at other places in the liturgy) are the same in the Latin original liturgical texts: "
Et cum spiritu tuo" (General Instruction of the Roman Missal134, 148). You are correct that a literal English translation of this Latin phrase is "And with your spirit"; however, this literal translation is not currently approved in the United States. Rather, "And also with you," a dynamic equivalence translation, is what is currently approved and in use. That said, you might be pleased to learn that a new, more literal English translation of the liturgical texts is currently being prepared in which " Et cum spiritu tuo" is translated as "And with your spirit." If and when this new translation is fully approved and promulgated in the United States, the response will change to "And with your spirit."

Correction: On page 38 of our September issue, the last word of Eyes to See was omitted because of a printing error. The concluding sentence should read, “It speaks the sublime language of God, with tongues of fire and the words of the Logos.” We apologize for the confusion.

This article appeared in Volume 19 Number 8.