Pleasing God

Many people are guilty of trying to please others above anything else in their life. They go to extra lengths to live up to the opinions of others, and their behaviors revolve around it. Sometimes the opinion of their families and loved ones take a backseat. 

In the Gospel (Mk. 1: 7-11), after Jesus was baptized by John,

On coming up out of the water He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon Him. And a voice came from the Heavens, “You are my beloved Sonwith you I am well pleased.”

Today’s Sunday is the last day of the Christmas Season and what follows is the Ordinary Time in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar. It is also the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, a transitioning moment from His hidden life in Nazareth to the beginning of His public ministry. This is significant because this is when Jesus revealed to the world who He is, an “epiphany”, a manifestation of His true identity as He prepares to begin His public ministry. It was through the simple and humble act of Baptism performed by John; not a grandiose event in the eyes of the world. The Lord didn’t have to go through it, but in His humility, He went through the experience. He waded through the Jordan in solidarity with sinful, struggling and dirty humanity. During His public ministry, He even dined with sinners, and as expected, it “scandalized” the religious leaders at that time. By these actions, Jesus embraced us as we are, so that we will understand His love for us as something even greater than our own selves. This opened up our lines to Heaven so that we will comprehend better His redeeming act of love for mankind’s salvation.

Even though Jesus is God, He shared our fragile and fickle-minded human nature. There was affirmation from the Heavens when God the Father said, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” This perfect act of Jesus also opened up Heaven for us. With our own baptism, the appropriate response is the journey towards a deeper commitment to follow Christ and avoid sin and wrongdoing. 

This Sunday, reflect on your own life: Who are you giving your full attention and commitment to? Are you giving God the attention that He deserves, as your Creator, King and God? Will He say at the end of your life, that He is “Well pleased” with you?

Dear Lord, thank you for sharing your Baptism with us. May we respond through a deeper commitment to You every day as we journey towards fulfillment of our vows in Baptism, hoping to live fully in unity with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Seek the LORD while He may be found, call Him while He is near.” (cf Is. 55: 6)

Saying Yes to God

God calls each one of us in so many different ways. In most instances, the Lord uses the situations close to us as means to connect with us. For example, the Lord used my parents to bring me closer to Him. They got me involved starting with what’s easier for me to do at a young age: serving as a Knight of the Altar. My parents woke me up early during summer so that I can catch up with the 6 o’clock daily Mass. Slowly, the practice of going to Mass became a habit, ingrained in my being that my elders didn’t have to wake me up anymore.  Aside from Masses in the Church, our Parish Priest also brought me when he celebrated Mass in the different communities. Baptisms, weddings, fiestas, and the like; those different experiences taught me more about the Faith, the Sacraments and the Holy Eucharist.

In today’s Gospel (Mt. 2: 1-12), we hear the proclamation,

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the JewsWe saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

The Magi were engaged in the study of the stars and were believed to come most likely from Persia, modern-day Iran. While they weren’t Jewish, they knew of the popular belief that a king would be born to save them. God used their interest — the study of the stars — to call them to search and meet the Lord. With a star, God guided them to follow this sign to pursue the search for the Savior. What was good about it is that the Magi responded to the call of God. They travelled a long and perilous way to meet the Child Jesus,

They saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

How about you, do you recognize the ways by which God is reaching out to you? Like the Magi, are you responding to His calls? Are you attentive to God’s invitation for a deeper relationship with Him? 

Dear God, as I face the New Year, continue to guide me to you. Make me be sensitive to the many ways You are reaching out. Grant me the wisdom and courage to respond and follow You. Protect me from the dangers of the journey and make me commit my life to You.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” (cf Ps. 72: 11)