Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (A)
Baptism may be defined according to its use:
– It is a religious ceremony of sprinkling water or immersing into water to symbolize purification (cf. dictionary).
– Among Christians, it is giving name to a person and accepting him/her into the faith.
– In secular organizations, it is accepting a person into their ideology, or putting a person in a challenging situation so that he can be “in” with friends.
For us Catholics, baptism is our initiation into the life of Jesus Christ in His Church through the pouring of or sprinkling with water. At the same time, the Church is giving us our names for Jesus. To be named is to be owned by the person or the faith we are being baptized into. Therefore, to be baptized for Jesus and for the Catholic Church is to be owned by God and by the Church. It is only fitting that we abide by the commands of God and the laws of the Church. Does God really own our life? Or do you keep our life as if it were our own?
The Baptism of our Lord is one of the events of His Manifestation to His people. This is the first mystery of the Mysteries of Light that Pope John Paul II established for us. In fact, all the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary are the manifestation of His saving power, so that when we pray them, we might contemplate on His power to save us from our sinfulness, especially through the intercession of Mary, our Mother.
Today, His manifestation should be seen through us in the following:
1. Our work and responsibilities: the continuation of His creation.
2. Our relationships: our obedience to the teachings of the Church and our participation and involvement in the activities of our community.
3. The celebration of the Eucharist and the other Sacraments: the real presence of God is made manifest, and our acceptance of Him is proclaimed in faith, hope and love for him.
4. Our witness to justice, truth and life: to make us holy and compassionate as the Father is holy and compassionate.
The baptism of Jesus was His initiation into the faith of the Jewish people. Without His baptism, the waters of the Jordan and all the waters would not be made holy for the baptism we celebrate today. In baptism, we are brought to light. We are filled with his light. Like him, we are light of the world. Remember the exhortation at baptism: Receive the light of Christ.
It is sad to witness that many Christians, baptized in the Church, continue to proclaim their oneness in the baptism of Christ, but persist in the life of sin, and do not take the necessary means to return to Jesus. Yes, they say they are sons of God, yet affiliates of the devil. They say they are sons of light, yet they work with the powers of darkness. They say they light up the world, yet they keep others in darkness by their examples. They say they are filled with the blessings of God and the Church, yet they wallow in worldly pleasures and assume worldly powers and influence at the expense of others, especially the weak and the poor.
The Acts of the Apostles teaches us that whoever fears Him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him (Acts 10:35). Isaiah continues this: my chosen one…. upon whom I have put my spirit…. shall bring forth justice to the nations (Is 42:1).
We hope and pray that our baptism into the Church and the People of God will lead us all to our Creator and live a life of justice, which is the love of the Lord, because He has called you for the victory of justice. He has grasped you by the hand; he has formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations (cf. Isaiah 42: 1-7).
At the Jordan, everyone heard this of Jesus: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17). Let this also be heard now about us throughout the world, as we celebrate the Eucharist and receive Him for our strength in this life till we reach His Kingdom in the life to come.
Pray. Receive the sacraments worthily. Live upright lives. Support the poor and the needy. Suffer for Christ and with Christ. Thus, Christ’s baptism and our baptism will be one; Christ’s mission will be our mission; Christ’s life will be our life. Then, we will shine as God’s manifestation for His people today.