God’s Embrace


13 January 2019. Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Reflection (Sem. Justin G. Gatus)

I can still recall the feeling when I received my dimissorial letter for the Admission to the Candidacy to the Diaconate and Presbyterate from our archbishop last year. That night, my heart was full with joy. The Admission is an important milestone in a seminarian’s life. It is when the Bishop of the diocese accepts and acknowledges you as a candidate for the ordination to Diaconate and Presbyterate. There are responsibilities attached to the Admission but above all, what really inspired me is the love that God showed me through that milestone. It is as if God embraced me tightly despite my unworthiness and sinfulness. Coincidentally, the recollection theme that was given to us in preparation for that milestone was Jesus’ Transfiguration and His baptism. And during that time, the Gospel verse, “You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased” echoed in my heart and mind.

In our Gospel today, we are reminded of our own baptism as Christians. In our Baptism, we are freed from sin and reborn as adopted children of God; we become members of Christ’s Mystical Body and incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live out the identity that has been given us. We become God’s beloved children and therefore must profess before men the faith we received from Him through the Church and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God. The Gospel also reminds me to always immerse myself in God’s conquering delight—following His commandment and continuously surrendering my own will to His. Just like how Jesus humbled Himself and asked St. John to baptize him. As a future pastor, I should always live out the identity that was given to me in baptism—as God’s beloved. And in response, to share and extend that love to my neighbors, most especially to those in the peripheries and in the margins of the society.

The Gospel Today
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”

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