22 August 2021

‘Let the little children come to
me … for it is to such as these
that the kingdom of God belongs’

‘Let the little children come to me’ (Luke 18: 16) … a stained-glass window in the north transept in Saint Mary’s Church, Youghal, Co Cork (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick

3 p.m., Sunday 22 August 2021,

Holy Baptism, Simon Michael Foley

Revelation 22: 1-5; Luke 18: 15-17.

May I speak to you in the name of God + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

What a wonderful gathering this is this afternoon!

While many people this afternoon are paying attention to a major clash between Limerick and Cork in the hurling final, we are witnessing Cork and Limerick being brought together in one family, in one sacrament, in this church.

Nicky and Rob were married here, Tamsin was baptised here two years ago, and now we have a third opportunity to celebrate new life and new commitment, with the Baptism of Simon Foley this afternoon.

This is not a naming ceremony: Nicky and Rob, and Simon’s grandparents and wider family circle already know his name.

This is not a welcoming ceremony: Simon has already been to church, here in Saint Mary’s Church and in Castletown Church, so he has been warmly welcomed into the Church.

This is not a private ceremony: there is nothing private about the Church, or Church membership or the public responsibilities and challenges that come with this.

Baptism is a public incorporation into the Body of Christ, the life of the Church past, present and future.

It is interesting how water is used as such a potent symbol in the life of Christ:

Christ begins his public ministry with his Baptism by Saint John in the waters of the River Jordan.

His first miracle involves a family celebration at which he turns water into wine.

The Samaritan woman at the well realises who he is when he promises her the Water of Life.

He calms the waters of the stormy sea, he heals and feeds by water, when he dies water flows from his side, when he rises, the Risen Christ meets his disciples by the water at the lakeshore.

And in our reading from the Book of Revelation, the beauty of the promises of Christ are depicted, poetically and dramatically, in ‘the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city.’

It is a promise of a future in which we are nourished and loved and cared for, where we are all welcome. There will be no more fear, no more hunger, no more violence, hatred or discrimination.

In the waters of his Baptism, Simon becomes part of the Body of Christ. He is the embodiment of Christ’s hopes for us, for the environment, for our future.

He now holds, embodies, all our hopes and promises for the future.

And nothing can be greater than that.

‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.’

And so, may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Revelation 22: 1-5:

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.

1 Ansin thaispeáin sé dom sruth uisce na beatha, é glan mar chriostal, ag teacht ó ríchathaoir Dé agus an Uain. 2 Bhí ansiúd i lár a sráide agus ar dhá thaobh na habhann, crainn na beatha a bheireadh a dhá dtoradh déag, agus gach ceann díobh ag tabhairt a thoradh le haghaidh na míosa. Ba chun na ciníocha a leigheas duilliúr na gcrann. 3 Ní bheidh aon ní faoi mhallacht feasta, ach beidh ríchathaoir Dé agus an Uain sa chathair, agus adharfaidh a sheirbhísigh é, 4 agus beidh a ghnúis le feiceáil acu, agus beidh a ainm ar chlár a n éadain. 5 Ní bheidh oíche ann feasta, agus ní bheidh gá acu le solas lóchrainn ná solas na gréine, óir lonróidh an Tiarna Dia orthu agus rialóidh siad ar feadh na síoraíochta.

Luke 18: 15-17

15 People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. 16 But Jesus called for them and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 17 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’

15 Bhíodar ag tabhairt na leanaí beaga chuige freisin chun go sínfeadh sé a lámh orthu; agus ar a fheiceáil sin do na deisceabail bhíodar ag cur ceartú orthu. 16 Ach ghlaoigh Íosa na leanaí chuige, ag rá: ‘Ligigí do na leanaí teacht chugam agus ná coiscigí iad, óir is lena leithéidí seo ríocht Dé. 17 Deirim libh go fírinneach, cibé nach nglacfaidh ríocht Dé ar nós linbh, ní rachaidh sé isteach inti choíche.’

The Baptismal font in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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