On living out our Christian baptism

NO matter how “worldly” we can become, there will moments when we feel the restlessness of wanting to relate with someone higher than us, someone bigger than life.

Deep within is the longing to connect with the Divine. This is what differs us from other species of the animal kingdom.

As human beings, we long to commune with God, to seek from Him wisdom and direction as we go about doing our daily duties. Our hearts and minds search for truth beyond human intelligence, and our spirits find refuge in prayer, devotions, and silence.

We all have to respect and respond to this primary longing of our hearts. For as creators who came from God, we will always long to return to him, be it in prayer while we live or in the afterlife. Again, it’s our nature as human beings.

As Christians, we’re blessed with the wisdom to relate to the Trinitarian God—Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. It’s what we believe the Scriptures have shown us, how God decided to reveal Himself to us. He’s God who creates, redeems, and enlivens. He’s the God of history, the present, and the future.

In God’s will and wisdom, his Word became flesh in Jesus Christ who was born, lived, walked among human beings. In Jesus, God showed us the Way, the Truth, and the Life. His life, ministry, death, and resurrection became for us a pattern of moral and spiritual life.

Through the Holy Spirit that is continually present in the world and in the Church, we find hope, courage, and consolation. It’s the Holy Spirit the moves us to love, to care, to serve, and to seek justice and peace.

As baptized Christians, we’re called to live intensely this intimate relationship with the Trinitarian God. After all, we were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.

Our baptism then should be more than a past event and a certificate. Instead, it’s a life that we should live out through a relationship with God in Sacraments, prayer, service, and care for the world and humanity.

In our everyday prayers then, we become conscious of space and time as holy ground where we meet God and feel his presence. We address God as the Father with all His protection and care, the Son with His mercy, forgiveness, and compassion, and the Spirit with all wisdom, life, and power.

This Sunday is the Solemnity of the Baptism of Jesus. In the Gospel, we find John the Baptist lived his calling passionately to be the herald of the Good News and pointed to people the true Messiah. We too must have the same passion and zeal for the Good News in Jesus Christ. And no matter how discouraging the happenings in the society are, be it in politics, business, or church, we must live out truthfully our baptism in Jesus Christ.

Living out our baptism in today’s context means more than practices of prayer. It involves the responsibilities of respecting  human life in all stages, caring for the environment, fostering decency in words and actions, protecting children and the vulnerable members of the society, addressing poverty  in the world, working against the adverse effects of media and technology to the human soul, and denouncing violence, corruption, abuse of power, and greed.

The alternative Second Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to Titus (2:11-14; 3:4-7) reminds us what living out baptismal call is about: “Beloved: The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires  to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from lawlessness and cleanse for himself a people of his own, eager to do what is good.”

 

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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.

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