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Baptism of the Lord 2011

In our country, there is no much talk about justice, demands for justice, protests for justice – both personal and social. And the images we get out of this movement for justice are that of angry mobs shouting at police and police retaliating against provocations. Or there may be a lonesome figure ranting against being victimized by those in power and the powerful ignoring him.

Today, the first reading speaks of justice. But it is not an angry justice, a hateful speech or gesture that we find. Here come someone working for justice with an unusual instrument in hand – his kindness.

Listen: “he shall bring forth justice to the nations…
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street… (he shall 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.”

The baptism of Jesus was the start of his great work of service or ministry. And it is important to us and to the whole world because it was the start of a new kind of ministry – a ministry of kindness to the world. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus will bring only love to the hurting and bleeding environment he has inserted himself into.

Jesus did not need to be baptized; only sinners need baptism. And yet, he joined the throng queuing up for John’s cleansing waters to show how kind God is in making his Son share in our shame and weakness. God’s kingdom in inaugurated by this gracious act of loving the worst in man and in owning it up so that we will feel we are not alone.

This too, is the meaning of our baptism. We are baptized so that the family of God will spread all around the world. We are baptized so that we can show the world what a real son or daughter of God is like. We are baptized that we can work for justice through the kindness that comes from the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Look at your surroundings: how many bad words are uttered each day? How many hurtful words are exchanged between enemies? How many pains are endured at the hands of even the people we love? How many tears are shed because people fail to show tenderness and solidarity with their neighbor? And these things happen at home, at work, in neighborhoods, maybe even in church.

St. Peter stressed what happened to Jesus after his baptism: “He went about doing good 
and healing all those oppressed by the devil, 
for God was with him.” Should we not also do the same?

As we thank God for the grace of our baptism, the fact that we are Christians, let us pause awhile and think whether like Jesus, we truly know what it means. We are baptized to be instruments of kindness. Be kind to someone who needs your love most today. Be kind even when it involves a sacrifice.