“Feast of the Lord’s Baptism: New Life in Christ, Incorporation into the Faith Community”, a Sunday Reflection by Fr. Baltazar Obico, OFM

Introduction: The word padrino or ninong comes from the church religious vocabulary to mean godparents, someone who assist the parents of the child in order that the baptized child grows up to be a mature Christian. They serve as second parents to their godchild that the latter should grow into Christian discipleship. The word padrino has deteriorated into what is known as the padrino system in our culture that is contributive, if not the major cause, to our inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy. It has eroded the merit system; what is important is who is your well placed padrino who can facilitate favors on your behalf, either through employment or juicy government contracts. The deterioration can be traced to reduction of baptism to become merely social events. Chief concern is given to numerous ninongs and ninangs to the lavish feasts for the invited guests. Less interest is shown in explicit religious dimension of the sacrament itself. The obvious result is nominal Catholicism sometimes labeled as KBL (kasal, binyag at Iibing) as those are the only occasions when the baptized go to Church.

Feast/Gospel: Today we celebrate the Lord’s baptism. In Mark’s account, John the Baptist once more professed that Jesus whom he is going to baptize is mightier than he. Matthew therefore expressed John’s reluctance to baptize Jesus due to his awe of Jesus. He perceives Jesus as the more powerful one. All the three synoptics have common denominators of the baptismal account of Jesus. The opening of the heavens, the appearance of the Spirit like a dove, and the voice from heaven recognizing him as God’s beloved son in whom the father is well pleased. And all of them placed Jesus’ baptism as a prelude to his public ministry. Hence the baptism of Jesus is the father’s public recognition of Jesus’ Sonship as well as the beginning of his public life. The same text from the prophet Isaiah 42 was also uttered in the transfiguration story, where the beloved three disciples have difficulty accepting the public proclamation of Jesus that messiahship consists in his suffering and death. The Father is well pleased with Jesus because of his work as a messiah and his life as Son of God is by being a servant, a suffering servant. The baptism of the Lord reminds us of our own baptism. We have been anointed and have been constituted as God’s children.

WORD: In baptism we are made God’s children. Traditionally we have associated baptism with cleansing of original sin; the experience of painful moral weakness in trying to do what our conscience tells us, but also inclination to evil which is called concupiscence. As a consequence we find ourselves in a society structured by sinful structures, injustices and moral aberrations. The struggle against sin must go on, but with our baptisms we are marked with Christ, in dwelt by the Spirit and supported by Christian community. Therefore baptism focuses on our having new life in Christ, not simply washing away of original sin.

In baptism we have been incorporated into the faith, messianic community of believers, the Church. This means our personal relation with Christ is never a private affair but always a loving relation that originates, develops and grows in union with fellow members of Christ’s body. Our baptismal life is never solitary, isolated thing, but a communal sharing with others. Lastly, baptism enables us to share in the church’s three fold ministry of Jesus’ as priest, prophet and king. In baptism we are not only recipients of the privilege of being children of the father, but we are also tasked to
proclaim his message and establish his kingdom by our words, deeds and courageous initiatives. This ministry will entail bringing our baptismal commitment to the political arena.

About Fr. Tasang and his other reflections.