The Baptism of the Lord
Reading 1: Is. 42:1-4, 6-7
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10.
Reading 2: Acts. 10:34-38
Alleluia: Cf. Mk 9:7
Gospel: Lk. 3:15-16, 21-22
What is the meaning of our life, what do we live for, what is our reason for being in the world, who are we? These are existential questions that we all ask ourselves in moments of personal difficulty.
We know that we are created the image of God, (Gn. 1:26-27). We know that sin has distorted that spiritual and corporal unity and image. A person who lives constantly in sin and in vices distorts even more that image of God in his person. The consequences of these actions can be multiple, one of them and the most frequent is that we lose the divine sense of things and the reason for being in the world, we loose our mission.
Humanly we are people moved by attraction, if we see someone who suffers, we suffer with them; if there is any discussion in a group where we are, we also get into the argument; if someone is happy, we are happy with them, if we see someone in deep prayer, we tend to pray too; if we meet and live with people who do not believe in God, who live a bad life, we are likely to take that direction or at least to doubt our faith too. That is why we must surround ourselves with people and circumstances that help us to do good. In fact, from todays readings Luke tells us that Jesus, “Went about doing good” all his life. That should be our goal as well, but we need to surround ourselves with the right people.
I’ll give you two examples of the effects of surrounding ourselves with people according to good or evil; let’s start with evil.
The influence of people is invisible and silent, it accumulates over time, but its effects end up being very visible in the long run. Each friend or colleague leaves a greater or lesser influence. In fact, we end up looking a lot like the people we expend time with. We need to ask ourselves: “Who is influencing me more?”
Here are some characteristics of a bad person:
- Some one who likes to Manipulate: Bad people tend to manipulate others for their personal benefit, not caring in the least if something bad could happen to them. They are only interested in themselves!
- They like to lie: They deceive people to take advantage of the situation.
- They do not assume responsibilities: They are never guilty! There is always someone else to blame.
- They are egocentric: people like that love to be considered the center of attention.
- They mistreat others: They love to humiliate and insult other people in order to feel superior, mainly to people with low self-esteem.
- They love to interrupt: Being self-centered do not respect the right of speech of others, therefore, they often interrupt conversations in order to be the center of attention again.
Then, if we surround ourselves with people with that mentality sooner or later we’ll star doing the same. On the contrary people who do good to others usually live:
- A life in holiness: (Ps. 101:1) regularly contemplates the holy nature of God in the things they do.
- They live with integrity at home, in business, and in the world (Ps. 15:5; 101:7)
- They move away from everything detestable or vulgar: (Ps. 15:4; 101:3). This is a person who does not commit to the evil ways of the world. We must not allow ourselves to become insensitive to immorality.
- They keep-guard from evil thoughts and bad behaviors: (Ps. 101:3-4). In order to go about doing good, we must get rid of every thought and action contrary to the nature and character of God.
- They do not disgrace others: (Ps. 15:3) our conversation must be edifying and encouraging. That does not mean that everything we need to say will be easy. But it does mean that it will be useful for the listener.
- They do not collaborate with bad, ungodly people: (Ps. 15:5; 101:3-4) The only way to not find ungodly people is to leave this life and go to heaven. However, we can choose not to enter into agreements, projects or commercial deals with these people.
- They embrace honesty: (Ps. 15:3; Ps. 101:7) Satan is the father of lies. Every time we are less honest we give ground to the tempter. Let’s commit ourselves to a total honesty in our own life and behavior. We must also expect honesty from the people around us.
- They do not seek gain that hurts others: (Ps. 15:5) God wants us to use our God given abilities. We need to use our talents and gifts to support and provide for our families and ourselves. However, any effort that takes advantage of others is a sin.
- They are humble: A holy life does not allow pride and presumption, (Ps. 101: 5). Pride fosters an abundance of sin. Those who want to live without blemish before God will seek humility.
- Some one who helps, encourages and protects the righteous: (Ps. 15:4) God calls us to serve others and meet the needs of those who cannot help themselves.
If we live like this, we will be very different from the culture of sin and death. We will be less like the world and more like Christ. In fact, that is exactly the point of Luke in the book of Acts that Jesus, “went about doing good.”