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Comparative Theology, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III
18- Does water have all these efficacious?
(a) This question reminds me of the rage of Naaman the Syrian when Elisha asked him to wash in the Jordan to be cleansed. He could not believe that the matter was as simple as just washing in water, especially as he had better rivers in Damascus than those in Israel (2Kin.5: 10-12). But when he obeyed and washed, he was cleansed by his belief.
The prophet ordered Naaman to wash in the River Jordan in which John the Baptist was to baptise later (Matt.3: 6). Shall we be like Naaman and think it too much for water to have these efficacious? God gives grace in the way He wishes. The grace in this case was not in the water of the River Jordan itself but in the power to cleanse which God endowed upon that water. The same is said about baptism, as we will explain later.
(b) When the Lord healed the man born blind, He put mud on his eyes and said to him: "'Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam' (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing" (John.9: 6,7). With his mere belief, the blind man could have seen, but God wished to enlighten him (baptism is spiritual enlightenment) through water. Let God's will be done the way He wishes; we do not design plans to be carried out by God, blessed be His name.
(c) In addition, we say in reply to this question that the water of baptism is not just ordinary water and the baptised is not only born of water but of water and the Spirit, and we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other pages. The Holy Spirit sanctifies the water of baptism, giving it a special nature so that whoever is submerged in it is born of water and the Spirit. Thus the baptised receives the merit of the redeeming Blood of Christ. When he is submerged into this water, he is buried with Christ and shares in the fellowship of His death in order to merit the fellowship of sharing in His resurrection. That is why, in sanctifying the water of baptism, we pour into it the Holy Chrism, the ointment of the Holy Spirit. Thus the water is sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Whoever is born of this water is born of water and the Spirit.
In sanctifying the water of baptism, the clergyman prays the litanies of sanctifying the water and of invocations the Holy Spirit. He also reads certain passages from the Holy Bible. Thus the water of baptism which cleanses us is sanctified by the word.
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