(A biblical refection on THE FEAST OF BAPTISM OF THE LORD, Sunday, 12 January 2014) 

First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7; Psalms: Ps 29:1-4,9-10; Second Reading: Acts  10:34-38; Gospel Reading: Matthew  3:13-17 

BAPTISAN YESUS - 1Jesus was baptized as a 30 year-old adult. Later He would call His followers to be baptized as a commitment to Him. In the very early Church, baptism was for adults only. Before they received it there was an extended period of prayer, instruction and personal decision. It was both a time for sadness and gladness, for although the person was beginning a demanding way of life, at the same time they were receiving a pledge of sustaining grace and future reward.

When the candidates would first present themselves to the baptized community of believers, they would speak of their personal lives, their views of God, Church, prayer, etc. Then the church members would relate to the candidates their beliefs and teachings on these and similar subjects. Following this mutual discussion and prayer, the church membership would decide which aspirants should be accepted for instructions and which should be rejected or postponed. Those accepted would then begin their entrance programs which culminated with their reception into the Church on the vigil of Easter. That evening still remains the most opportune time to receive adul converts into full communion.

The baptism of children did not become commonplace until about the 5th century. In each case the parent were to speak in behalf of their children, and had to promise to raise their youngsters in the faith, before they could be baptized. This also is still the practice today, and the modern Church is reemphasizing its importance.

BAPTISAN YESUSThe deep significance of baptism is that it is the entrance into a new life of faith, intended to grow and blossom into eternity. As a ceremonial pouring of water, baptism is received only once. But it is also a day by day consignment of one’s life to the risen Lord. The funeral liturgy is a solemn reminder of our baptismal dignity. When the white pall shrouds the casket, it is a symbolic reminder of the small white robe that veiled this person as a baby many years before. “On the day of her (his) baptism”, the priest says, “she (he) put on Christ; in the day of Christ’s coming may she (he) be clothed with glory”.

The baptism of Jesus, like our own, is viewed as a public pledge to do more than the minimum and to accept the responsibility to be our brother’s keeper. A baptized person becomes a contradiction if she or he grows selfish with possessions and narrow-minded in outlook. When we see the many social sins around us, we should feel some responsibility to make improvements- and in some cases a sense of guilt for having contributed to them.

At our baptisms we don’t see any doves or openings in the sky, but we do believe that the sacrament makes us a better person and that God’s favor rests upon us.

Note: Taken from Rev. James Mckarns, GO TELL EVERYONE, Makati, Philippines: ST. PAUL PUBLICATIONS, 1985, pages 15-16. 

Jakarta, 12 January 2014 

A Christian Pilgrim


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(A biblical refection on THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – May 12, 2013) 

Gospel Reading: John 17:20-26 

First Reading: Acts 7:55-60; Psalms: Ps 97:1-2,6-7,9; Second Reading: Rev 22:12-14,16-17,20 


“I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. The glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them, that they may  be one even as We are one, I in them and Thou in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me and hast loved them even as Thou hast loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast has given Me, may be with Me where I am, to behold My glory which Thou hast given Me in Thy love for Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known Thee, but I have known Thee; and these know that Thou hast Me. I made known to them Thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (Jn 17:20-26 RSV) 

Who could have imagined such love? Knowing He must soon die a terrible death, Jesus asked His Father to pour out on us the love of the Holy Spirit, the very love God Himself had for Jesus from all eternity. “I made known to them Thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn 17:26). It is both astounding and humbling, to think that there is no distinction at all in God’s love.

Think for a moment about how deeply God loves His Son. It was out of love for Him that God determined to present all creation to Jesus: “… all things were created through Him and for Him” (Col 1:16). God so loved Him that at Jesus’ baptism He joyfully declared before all, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17).

TIGA SALIB DI KALVARI - 100Jesus knew His Father’s love intimately, and it was this love that motivated His every action while He was with us: “… the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing; for whatever He does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all that He Himself is doing” (Jn 5:19-20). Jesus was so filled with the Father’s love that He was able to embrace all the cruelty and agony of the cross to win our salvation.

By the power of this cross, Jesus has crucified our fallen nature and freed us to be filled with the same love of God that He Himself experiences. This is a passionate love, powerful enough to soften the hardest of hearts and transform all of us into a people who love as deeply as God loves. This is an all-inclusive love, capable of breaking down every barrier of suspicion, resentment, and fear that keeps us separated from each other. This is a love that never fails, for the Father is always looking upon us in love, wanting only to bless and strengthen us as we turn to Him.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, in these days before Pentecost, fill everyone with an experience of God’s great love. Free us from fear and selfishness and replace it with the love of the Trinity, so that we can be one with God and one with all our sisters and brothers. Raise us up as witnesses to the world, inviting everyone to discover God’s transforming love available through Christ our Savior. Amen. 

Jakarta, May 11, 2013 

A Christian Pilgrim


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