Many years ago when I was being sent on an errand by my Lola, I found a one-peso coin along the way. Upon returning home I told her about it and she said, “This is not ours, let’s give it to Church when we go to Mass.” Young and immature I was then, I felt dismayed that something that I found and could buy some candies is to be given elsewhere. But later, that lesson struck me about the values of being honest and trustworthy. Do not get what is not yours. Values that should be at the core of our being. Being endowed with honesty and trustworthiness stem from a deeply-seated humility and nobility of character. Not many are given that gift though, as it comes from a purposive and well-thought of behavior brought out by many years of learning and submission to authority. My Lola is a prime example as she has nurtured these values in her children and grandchildren (who have the blessing and opportunity to be guided and taught by her in our growing up years). She never took for granted the chance to teach us whenever situations were presented. And we are grateful to her for it.
In today’s Gospel (Lk. 3: 15-16, 21-22), we can see one of the perfect models of trustworthiness and humility in Scriptures, St. John the Baptist. When the time came that he was asked if Jesus is the Messiah, his classic reply is one filled with obedience and humility:
“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.”
St. John lived his calling faithfully and without any selfish interest whatsoever. True he was popular and had many followers that’s why many were filled “with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.”
There are many cases wherein people who have been entrusted betrayed their friends and benefactors. People like Judas Iscariot, spies, corrupt politicians and officials, come to mind as among these kind of people. When we sin, we become like them. It’s not about education nor about being with a certain religion. There are many professed Catholics who betray their faith by being unfaithful in their positions. Nobody is perfect, but what makes it more serious is when you don’t acknowledge, repent and mend your ways. Thus, it is something that is drawn from natural and moral laws that is almost always common sense. It takes strength of character, wisdom, and fear of the Lord to overcome the temptations to abuse power and wealth. When you fail, have the humility to accept it and repent before God and Church. When one has these virtues, it’s almost always automatic that that person is endowed with integrity. Sad to say, this is lacking today.
When you are a person obedient to faith, without blinking an eye you can present God to others without fear and worry. You know yourself and as well as the source of your power and strength. You don’t derive it from people and earthly power. It’s something powerful and out-of-this-world. You know that God is with you and won’t fail you.
After Jesus’ Baptism, God the Father affirmed “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Just like Our Lord, due to grace received at our baptism we are acknowledged by God as His sons and daughters. Thus considering most of us received Baptism when we were still infants, we have this obligation to learn, nurture and spread the faith. As parents, ask yourselves, “Have you done your obligation to teach your children what our faith is all about?” Have you taught them morality and in building principles and values in their lives? If you failed these roles, most probably these are the reasons why the world today is filled with dysfunctional men and women who persist in their ways.
Lately, Netflix released the movie “Noah” as an ambitious portrayal of the Biblical character descending from our first parents Adam and Eve. As the film portrayed, building the ark from “out of nothing” and a literally barren earth, Noah’s faith in the Creator (as the film calls God) was strong and unfailing. Despite threats from other men and to family unity, his obedience to the Creator prevailed and didn’t waver. His faith was strong and he was obedient.
In this Baptism of the Lord Sunday, may we be obedient and faithful to our calling. May we have the strength to persevere and just like St. John the Baptist, offer everything that we have to God, whose honor, glory and power must “increase” while we “decrease” in faithful submission to Him. May we be “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.” (First Reading, Is. 42: 1-4, 6-7).
“The Lord will bless His people with peace.” (Ps. 29: 11b)