Baptism of Christ Reflection 1/13/2019
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFM
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Merry

The readings for the feast celebrating the Baptism of Christ are such wonderful reminders of the truth of God’s teachings and His everlasting
Love and mercy for ALL God’s children.  In Titus 2 reading we heard the following; “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation
to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present
age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to
redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
This reading is an affirmation that God never discriminates or rejects anyone who loves Him and comes to Him seeking forgiveness, comfort
and peace.  As followers of Jesus Christ and professed children of God we should never refuse any one the opportunity to partake of the
sacraments of to pray to God or participate in liturgical services for any reason.  Christ never turned anyone away who came to him in faith.
In the Gospel of Luke chapter 3, verses 21-22 we hear; “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was
praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my
Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
God, himself is proclaiming that Christ was his son, so we can assume that what Christ told us, is what we should be doing.
Since Christ is the chosen son of God and He came to bring God’s truth to us and to save us we need to look to His teachings as the way we
should be living our lives.  The Beatitudes direct us in the way to live by instructing us to be generous, caring, compassionate, forgiving and
instruct us to care for the sick, aged, and poor.  We need to treat all people with justice and equality not just some chosen few who fit our
idea of acceptable because they conform to our social, economic, racial or sexual orientation ideas.
The greatest commandments according Christ are the following; “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have
loved you, you also should love one another. (John 13:34) and This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: “You
shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Nothing could be clearer, plainer or easier for us to understand yet we seem to want to add a lot of strings making it very difficult for people
to express their love of God.  We set all kinds or barriers and restriction up that often cause people to feel that God does not want them.
Love is simple and easy to accomplish if we only allow ourselves to be open to it. As Paul Says in First Corinthians twelve; “If I give away all
my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not
envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but
rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  Love never ends”.  
God is LOVE as First John four verse sixteen says; “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him”  Christ is
the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Old Testament that proclaimed the coming of the Messiah. In Isaiah 42:6-7 it is foretold; “Faithfully
he brings true justice; he will neither waver, nor be crushed until true justice is established on earth, for the islands are awaiting his law. I,
the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right; I have taken you by the hand and formed you; I have appointed you as covenant of the
people and light of the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from the
dungeon.”  Christ fulfilled all of these prophecies, He healed the sick and the lame, restored the dead to life, opened the eyes of the blind
and freed all of us from the captivity of the prison of sin through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead which gave us the
forgiveness of sin.
As followers of Christ we need more than ever to diligently begin to LOVE one another as Christ and God loves us and reach out to others
with expressions of friendship and peace instead of rejection and discrimination.  We need to extend our hands in friendship instead of
missals of destruction. We need to be charitable to those in needs and compassionate to those in pain. We need to be patient, kind, and put
aside our petty jealousies, arrogance and greed and become a living expression of God, LOVE.  AMEN