The story is told about two men on a tandem bicycle who were panting and perspiring when they finally reached the top of the hill. “That was a stiff climb,” said the first man. “It certainly was,” replied the second man. “And if I hadn’t kept the brake on, we would have slid backward.”
Today is the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. In today’s gospel, we hear of the inspiring tandem of Jesus and his cousin, John, who baptized him in the Jordan River. Nobody applied the brakes on anyone. Theirs was teamwork and partnership all the way, and in all ways.
It is the kingdom of God that suffers if we do not set aside our division and rivalries. We are a team. There are no greater gods or superstars among us. We all are equally called to work humbly in the vineyard of the Lord.
Humility is the key to harmony and unity. Jesus humbled himself to be baptized by John, who, in turn, humbly prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” In the end, both of them humbly obeyed God’s will.
What is, who is pleasing to God? More than our talents, achievements and efforts, it is our humble obedience that pleases Him. Great works are great, but if done without humble obedience, they are empty, vain and self-serving.
Take note that our baptism is about membership and mission. By virtue of our baptism, we become children of God and members of the Church. But along with this privilege is a mission. We who have been anointed with the oil of gladness are sent to bring the Good News to the poor.
Take note: Gladness and good news are a part of our identity, and must be the trademark of whatever ministry or mission we are called to do. Be joyful and be a good news!
Pope Francis suggests that we know our baptism date. He urges us to ask our parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles or friends when we were baptized, and be grateful for the grace of baptism.
It was a beautiful family moment in our Muñoz clan reunion last Jan. 4, when cousins and nephews and nieces arrived from Canada, along with their three babies. Amid shouts of joy and embraces, the three babies were passed on in the arms of one cousin to another. That was a beautiful sight, a heartwarming family moment.
Amid wars and forests burning, oppression, sickness and violence, Pope Francis has this to say to us: “In the saddest moments of our life, in the most anguishing moment of trial, we must not be afraid, but be daring like Paul was, because God watches over us. He is always close to us.”
Think about this: “When you feel like worrying, try praying instead. Worrying only causes more stress, but prayer creates peace. God is BIGGER than whatever is stressing you out.”
Fr. Albert van Leeuwen, SVD, from Schipluiden, Rotterdam, has gone home to his Creator at the age of 91. He spent all his missionary life in the Philippines, particularly in Abra. He was my first pastor and mentor as a young priest, and he taught me by his very life example the values of diligence, teamwork and prayerfulness. It is a privilege to have lived and worked with this humble spiritual giant who continued to choose to be simple, hidden and joyful till the very end. Agyaman kami kenka Apo Albert!
A moment with the Lord:Lord, help us to work, and teach us to work as a team. Amen.
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