#49 THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Jesus-Baptism

Lk 3:21 “When all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape like a dove.”

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus and God’s revelation of him as the “beloved Son”.  We also remember our own baptism when we became God’s beloved children.

Expectations

The people in Jesus’ time expected a Messiah. They had their ideas of who this Messiah should be and what He should do. We also have expectations as Christians. Your expectation should be in line with who you are and who God is enabling you to become. Your expectations should be consistent with what God wants for you. As His children, we should strive to be what God wants us be; to give up what does not lead to God, and all inordinate worldly ambition. Live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age (cf. Titus 2:12; Micah 6:8). Our lives should bring others closer to God.

Adoption

Who is the long-expected Messiah? It is Jesus, the beloved Son of God. What does He do? Baptise us with the Holy Spirit and Fire. Who are we? The beloved of God, His adopted children and heirs of His kingdom. The Greek word translated “adoption” is huiothesia, and it occurs only five times in the New Testament, all in the letters of St Paul (Rom 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5). It means “to formally and legally declare that someone who is not one’s own child is henceforth to be treated and cared for as one’s own child, including complete rights of inheritance.” In the Roman culture, the adopted son or daughter had four major changes: a change of family, a change of name, a change of home, and a change of responsibilities. “Adoption” clearly indicates that a Christian is a member of God’s family.

What are we to do? Embrace a journey of discovery about Jesus and ourselves that sets us on fire for God. All our expectations should be directed toward faithful baptismal living.

Baptismal Rite

The baptismal rite put into focus the primary gift of baptism – a share in divine life which is for us a new identity:

Water – plunged into the baptismal waters, we are plunged into Christ’s death; rising we share in divine life. Water brings both death (to our old selves) and a rebirth of life (new Life in God).

Chrism: anointed with chrism, we share in the threefold office of Christ- priest, prophet and ruler. Our anointing with chrism is a consecration of ourselves to conform our life to Christ’s.

White garment: clothed in a white garment, we are reminded of our new, holy, risen Life in Christ. We are to live unstained until we enjoy eternal Life with God.

Lighted candle: enlightened by Christ, we are also to be Light of Christ dispelling sin and darkness in the world. We ourselves are manifestations that in Christ the light of salvation has come into the world (cf. Jn 1:9; 8:12).

These Symbols also imply the demands of discipleship:

  • Water: dying to self;
  • Chrism: conforming ourselves to Christ;
  • White garment: living lives worthy of who we are;
  • Lighted candle: overcoming the darkness of sin.

Primarily these symbols help us understand who we become in baptism – members of the Body of Christ sharing in divine identity.

Greater awareness and appreciation of our identity enables us to be more faithful in our discipleship.

Baptismal Living

Faithful baptismal living both fulfils expectations and generates new ones. This is why baptismal living is a journey of discovery. Baptism opens us to a Presence that continually transforms who we are and what we can do for others. Baptism offers us new Life in the Holy Spirit, one that is steadfast yet unpredictable, familiar yet surprising, restful yet energizing. Baptismal living calls us not simply to run away from sin but to realise that everything we do can be done to the glory of God (cf. 1Cor 10:31; Col 3:17). Our every action can become an act of worship. Baptism sets no on fire with love for God.

Baptism and Prayer

If baptism is the flame, prayer is the wax that keeps it burning. Jesus’ first action after His baptism was to pray to the Father. Luke mentions ten different occasions when Jesus sought the solitude of prayer (Lk 3:21-23; 4:1-2; 4:14; 5:15-17; 6:12-13; 9:18-20; 9:28-29; 11:1-4,9; 22:39-46). He did this to give us an example of how God’s children should long to communicate with their heavenly Father. He also did it because, God’s will is revealed when we spend time with Him. We grow to love, trust and live for Him.

Prayer: Thank You Lord for making me your child through the waters of Baptism. Give me strength to love you and seek a deeper and more loving relationship with You.

#2 History, Sex and Stuff

relationships

Dear Doctimus Prime,
I stumbled into a man I met two weeks ago here in the parish. He came to see the parish priest. Mr John. The voice was unmistakeable. His stature as imposing at the very first time we met. He had his back to me as I walked into the living room. He was speaking to Father Mark. I walked up to both of them and greeted. He was excited and gave me a hug. Father Mark teased him to stop calling me his “Brother” since we are not from the same state. He laughed and asked me if I know what ECS meant. “ECS”? No. “East Central State,” Father Mark blurted. “Yes”, John added, we are all one. Mark now recounted how his younger sister didn’t know what ECN stood for. I didn’t either. ECN is Electric Corporation of Nigeria. It was replaced by NEPA which has been replaced by PHCN. “Back when we used to have power,” Father Mark continued with an expression of loss written all over him. “A bulb could last up to a year.” “Two years,” John added almost immediately. He wasn’t so young if he remembers that much. You know how people like to romanticize about the past. I am obviously born into a new generation. I am sure I will have my own story to tell. But it is always helpful to know what has gone before and what is currently the situation of things. Only with these pieces of information can you better articulate your course of future actions. History, I think, will vindicate us if we learn from the past and refrain from ignorance.
I wasn’t just going to tell you about history Prime. I wanted to tell you that I have a new schedule that is making it increasingly difficult for me to write. I have to wake up early and be at mass. I return at a quarter past eight and barely have time to take breakfast and get myself ready for office. With the number of people who stop by each day, I don’t see myself constructing a single statement without hearing a knock on the door. But I will always try to scribble something for you as soon as time affords me the luxury.
We have a young priest visiting and I am enjoying his company. He said something very interesting about human relationship this morning that struck me. He said that most relationships, especially between guys and girls, are supposed to take the shape of a pyramid. At the base should be communication and mutual understanding, leading up to friendship. At the top, as a sort of culmination point, is SEX. The latter should serve as a “CAP-STONE” for a thriving relationship. In present day this pyramid has been inverted. This leaves sex at the base and couples try to work upwards. When they start having sex, they don’t know each other. And when they get to find out the other’s shortcomings, the base is already shaking since it is standing on a tip.
Something else which bothers me is the whole sex craze. It has always been a concern. But I don’t think that young people are doing themselves any good by opting for sex before marriage. This is compounded by the strange demands guys and girls make of each other. A guy once told me that he won’t like to marry a virgin. That it would be a whole lot of stress trying to deflower her. Another lady friend painted a rather funny picture. She would like her man to be a “pro” in bed before they meet. To my young man, I want to believe he was exaggerating the “stress” he complained about. The hymen, I later read, is a thin tissue covering the vaginal opening, leaving a space for menstrual flow when this takes place. It is not torn out but stretched when a lady has vaginal intercourse. So the insertion of the penis does not more than stretch this tissue creating more space in the vagina eventually. Only a dunce would consider this a “stress” especially if he really doesn’t know anything about a woman’s body than just having sex with her (“dunce”, dem tink say dem be don but dem neva done!). It should ordinarily be the joy of every man to know that he is his wife’s first and only love. This should also be the case with the woman. Does anyone need to go far to find out the reason we still have a lot of fail and short-lived marriages in a time when people boast about having great sex?
A boy asked me about his problem with masturbation. I told him a few things I will like to share with you. But that will be next time. I really have to go now. I am already late for my next appointment.
Yours
BLOGATRON.