09 January 2010

Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ: 'God takes delight in his people'


New American Bible (Philippines, USA)

Jerusalem Bible (Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, Scotland)

Gospel (New American Bible)

Lk 3:15-16, 21-22

The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

For me an astonishing thing is that Jesus lined up with sinners. Probably none of the others in the queue knew who he was. Here is God-made-Man, totally sinless, pure love. I remember last April there was consternation when it was discovered that Jacqueline Aquino Siapno, the Filipino wife of the president of the parliament of East Timor, flew with their 5-year-old son to Manila where she was met by her mother. They took a bus to her native Dagupan City, five hours away, and from the bus terminal there hailed a tricycle to take them to her parents' home. This was beyond the comprehension of the authorities in the Philippines. If we think about it, it should be all the more beyond our comprehension to imagine Jesus standing among a crowd of sinners letting others think he was a sinner too.

But he came to show us how much God loves us.

Two texts in the readings this week pointing towards the words of the Father. One was from the first reading last Tuesday: In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins (1 Jn 4:10). The other was the response in the responsorial psalm today, Saturday: The Lord takes delight in his people (Ps 149).

So often we see ourselves as having to earn God's love, when it is pure gift, pure grace, pure blessing. Most of us learned from our parents and teachers that we had to 'earn' love: we were often rewarded if 'good' and punished if 'bad'. Here in the Philippines many children learn that they are 'maldito' or 'maldita'. The online Merriam-Webster Spanish-English Dictionary defines those words as adjectives meaning 'cursed, damned, wicked'. They don't have that force in their Philippine usage, where they usually mean something like 'naughty'.

Nevertheless, many grow up with the idea that love can only be earned and that idea of God taking delight in his people nevere crosses the mind or heart of most of us, I think. The image that comes to my mind is that of proud parents showing their child to their relatives and friends.

Renante and Cristina Uy of Bacolod with their first child, Keifer Thomas (used on the cover of Misyon, November-December 2007)


Recorder said...

You might like to see Winter views of Churches from Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland:


Dr. Herbert R. said...

Dear Fr.
I like your blog it is informative. I admire priests who blog. In this digital age blogging has been a powerful and often effective means of communication. And so we Catholics can do this to spread the message of love.
I am adding your blog to my blog list as a matter of interest. You may also visit my blog at http://thefilipinotraditionalromancatholic.blogspot.com/
Its called the Filipino Traditional Roman Catholic. I am from Albay Province here in Bicol. I have been to Bacolod City and met with the Pax Christi People and with some of the people of Misyon.
From Bicol - Dr. Herbert R.