11 January 2013

CONTINUING EPIPHANIES

Feast of the Lord’s Baptism
Lk 3:15-16, 21-22 (Is 42:1-4, 6-7 / Ps 29 / Acts 10:34-38)

Last Sunday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany.  Epiphany comes from the Greek vocabulary, epifania, meaning “glorious manifestation”.  When Jesus was born on Christmas day, He allowed Himself to be seen by shepherds who represented the Jewish race, the poor, and the outcast.  When the magi from the East, representing the Gentiles, the wealthy, and the wise, visited Him, God’s universal salvific will is revealed: Jesus, His Son and the Savior of the world, was born for all peoples.  But the manifestation of the Lord did not end with the visit of the magi.  At the Jordan, as we celebrate in the liturgy today, Jesus continued revealing Himself.

Sinless though He was, Jesus went to John the Baptist to be baptized.  John’s baptism was certainly not the same baptism that we received.  His was a baptism of repentance from sin but was not a sacrament as we have ours.  Jesus had no sin to repent from, but He nonetheless joined the sinners who flocked to John for baptism.  In doing so, Jesus manifested God’s solidarity with the sinful human race.  Though God hates sin, clearly He does not hate sinners.  He loves them.  He cares for them.  He longs to be with them.  Jesus is God’s judgment on sin but God’s salvation for sinners.

Not one of us can boast of having so far lived a totally sin-free life.  We do strive and even struggle to remain in the state of grace always, but we lie when we say we do not sin.  1 Jn 1:8 declares, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  But our sinfulness, though must always be given a serious thought and the urgency of sincere contrition and conversion of life, cannot spell hopelessness for us unless we stubbornly persist in it.  On the contrary, even sin may well occasion our deep encounter with God, as exemplified to us by the life of great saints like Augustine of Hippo or Paul of Tarsus who himself wrote in Rom 5:20, “…where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”  This is so because God never abandons us even when we sin.  He gave us Jesus, His Son, who was never threatened to be in the company of sinners, like you and me, as seen in His baptism in the Jordan and elsewhere in the gospels.

This, indeed, is Good News to us!  The entire liturgical feast today – not just the Gospel read to us from Lk 3:15-16, 21-22 – is Good News to us.  Christmas day tells us that God became man.  The Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany tells us that He became man for all of us.  Today, the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism tells us that He did not only become man for all of us but remained aloof, on the contrary, becoming one like us in all things but sin, He nonetheless counts Himself as one of us.  He is not only one WITH us but one OF us!  Jesus is not only FOR us; Jesus is also FROM us!

The baptism of Jesus at the Jordan did not glorify sin but it certainly glorified us despite our poor nature.  He embraced our poverty so that we might be rich.  He came to share in our humanity that we may come to share in His divinity.  How about the baptism we received when we became children of God and disciples of Jesus, does it glorify Jesus in us?

At His baptism, Jesus inaugurated His public ministry.  And He was not alone in doing so, for the other Two Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity likewise revealed Themselves at Jesus’ baptism: the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove while the Father’s voice was heard, declaring not only that Jesus was His Son but that Jesus was His beloved and joy because on Jesus He was well pleased.  Another glorious manifestation!  The mission of Jesus is always the mission of the Three Persons of the One God.  It is always a communitarian mission.  Kanya-kanya nga sila ng papel pero hindi sila nagkakanya-kanya.  Iba-iba nga sila ng persona pero hindi sila iba-iba nang diskarte.  At mas lalo rin naman pong hindi sila magkakasama sa umpisa o nagkakaisa sa simula pero nang matapos ang misyon ay magkakaaway na.  Hindi po.  Sa simula, sa gitna, at sa kaganapan ng misyong ipagkaloob sa atin ang buhay ng Diyos, laging magkakasama, nagkakaisa, at nagtutulungan ang Tatlong Persona ng iisang Diyos.  God Himself is our example how to begin, go about, and accomplish our mission.

We know because we experience that one of the evil effects of sin in us is divisiveness.  Sin destroys and so sin divides.  Diabolos in Greek, from which our Tagalog word diablo comes, means “to divide into two”.  Whoever and whatever divides us – be it in our selves as individuals or in our communities – is a diablo, and that is the effect of sin.  It is in the midst of our sinful nature that we find Jesus today in the liturgy, mingling and falling in line with us.  It is in the reality of the divisive effect of sin in us that God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – reveals Himself to us in a communitarian mission.  Jesus shares His life with us.  God shares His salvific mission with us.

The baptism we received was not the baptism of John the Baptist.  The baptism we received was not the baptism that Jesus received from John the Baptist.  But the baptism we received was the baptism by which we were not only forgiven from our sins but by which we have also received the life of Jesus and mission of the Triune God.  Having given the life of Jesus, we are tasked to share the same life with others.  Having known the joy of Jesus, we are to bring that same joy to others.  This we must do not alone but always together and led by those whom God has appointed to be our shepherds in the Church. 

As both the first and second readings today highlight the anointing of Jesus as the Christ, so are we reminded that we, too, have been anointed for this mission.  That precisely is the reason why we are called “Christians”.  We are an anointed people.  In Baptism, we have been anointed with the holy oil of chrism.  We are “Christified”, conformed unto the likeness of Jesus, so to speak.

Christmas is over, but not our being Christians.  We continue the manifestation of Christ to the world.  We are the Lord’s continuing epiphanies to all.

1 Comments:

At 9:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord Jesus, let me be like your first disciples who promised to follow you. Make me more enthusiastic in bringing the Good News of Your salvation and love to
all Your peoples.

Teach me to recall what God has done for me.The very people around me who makes me know Your Heart much more. Make me generous to share Your goodness and love in return to bring the Good News to them too. Amen

Thank you so much Fr. Bobby !
God bless you and family .

-rory

Thank You Lord Jesus,

 

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