The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

13.01. 2008 – Baptism of Christ

Baptism of Christ reminds us about our Baptism, about our dignity as the children of God, but also about our obligations …

Penitential: Let us recognize that very often I spoil and ruin my dignity of the child of God and I forget my obligations. I confess …

May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Reading I - Is 42:1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Responsorial Psalm - Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10

R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Reading II - Acts 10:34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. You know the word that he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

Gospel - Mt 3:13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan
to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”


Home made religion

John the Baptist was a very fierce man. This might be what you would expect of a man who lived most of his life in the desert. He knew all about hardship and he had the marks of penance on his body. Much of his message was taken up in condemnation, condemnation of those living a life of luxury and giving no thought to the life of the Spirit.

But if John was so fierce why did so many people come to him, people from all over Palestine? If I preached fierce condemnatory sermons each week you would soon get fed up, so why did the people flock to hear John.

They came because he had a message of hope and truth. Yes, he was fierce, but he was also truthful. He tapped into something deep inside each person. He knew that each one of us is profoundly aware of their own guilt and wants to repent and he drew this out.

But he was also able to tell them that one of their deepest yearnings was also about to be filled, a Savior was about to come. One who would reach out to them with the hand of healing and Salvation. They came to John because he had a message of hope and Truth, and the hope he pointed to Jesus Who is the Truth.

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus asked John to baptism him "to fulfill all righteousness." The words "to fulfill all righteousness" meant to live by God's will, to do all God commands.

The baptism of Christ reminds us about our own baptism. At his baptism, God identified Jesus as his "beloved son." At our baptism, we become sons and daughters of God, identified as "Christian." We have no more noble title. Jesus became the suffering servant. We are called to serve. We have no more noble task than to do God's will, to serve others, to do all God commands.

And what indeed we do with our baptism, with our faith, with our moral obligations?

Famous German theologian Karl Rahner in his book “Foundation of faith” writes:

“True religion, as a religion of the transcendental God and not the religion of my own subjective imagination cannot be rooted only in my subjectivity or depend only on my individual projection. It has to be a religion of objective and indisputable moral and ethical values rooted ultimately in God, Who is always out of me and finally out of my understanding. If the religion is only an expression and interpretation of my personal understanding and my private acceptation, it is always subjective and week, and finally it is a kind of home made religion. And what is the value of such a home made religion? The value of such a home made religion is the same as the value the home made currency. Means null, literally zero!!”

And this is what we precisely do nowadays with our baptism. We create a kind of home made religion, which is absolutely subjective and depending only on my private acceptation and rejection depending on my private and subjective caprices.

Very often contemporary Christians see the religion rather as merchandise in the supermarket. Many people declare their adherence to the Catholic Church, but they “privatize” faith making it “more human, soft and flexible.” They accept God as long as He is obedient to them, accommodating, submissive and yielding to their desires.

They say I believe in God, I believe that God exists but I don’t believe God, I don’t trust Him, I don’t accept all or at least some commencements. Their decisions are not an effect of the commandments of God and the teaching of the Church but their personal convictions, they agree that robbery is a sin, but they reject for example the moral teaching in the domain of sexuality.

Sociologist Chuck Colson, who has examined this trend, says that "instead of adhering to a specific set of doctrines, they feel free to pick and choose from all the various belief systems, or to create their own tailor-made religion."

This is dangerous ground. The true believer knows that Jesus Christ is the only way to God (Acts 4:12), and that the Bible, God's inspired Word, is the only true source of instruction (2 Timothy 3:15-16). The true believer knows also that sin is a terrible reality and not only the invention of some ultra superstitious priests. They know that: “Whoever says, ‘I know God’, but does not obey His commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist” (1 John 2:4)

All beliefs and practices relating to spirituality must be based on biblical truth—not on how appealing they may sound. Don't trust a homemade religion that contains a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Make your faith all about Jesus, and test everything by God's Word which was given to the Church “knowing this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20).

So, what did I do with my Baptism? Do I live by God's will, do I follow all God commandments or rather my personal, tailor-made caricature of faith?

Prayer of the faithful:

Almighty God, our Father, we know that your truth is revealed in your Son Jesus Christ, but very often we reject Him as your revelation, give us please the grace of the ultimate recognition of the Truth revealed in Christ and given to us trough the Church.

May the incarnation and Baptism of your Son Jesus Christ be for us always a source and example of our personal obedience to your commandments and may it reminds us of our dignity of the children of God. We ask this trough Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen

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