BAPTISM OF THE LORD C 2013
Why, do you think, the sinless Son of God embraced a baptism of repentance? One simple answer is this: so that each of us could hear our Father say, “You are my beloved child. With you I am well pleased”! Overemphasis on baptism as a means of purification from original sin limits our understanding of the sacrament. There is more to baptism than simply purification. Baptism is the revelation of our true identity as children of God. There is nothing that we can do during our lives that is more important than listening as God tells us, in our hearts and souls, that we are his beloved and cherished children and that all human persons have that dignity.
125 years ago Cardinal Lavigerie of Algiers- at the request of Pope Leo XIII - began the Catholic Church’s involvement in the movement for the abolition of the Slave Trade, together with other pioneers like William Wilberforce.
On December 23rd, 1888, Cardinal Lavigerie said:
“Slavery, as it is practiced in Africa, is not only, indeed, contrary to the Gospel, it is contrary to natural law…it involves all humanity. That is why I am appealing to everyone, without distinction of nationality, party or religious creed. I do not address myself simply to faith, but to reason, to justice, to respect, to love of liberty. I am a man, and nothing human is foreign to me. I am a man, and injustice towards others revolts my heart. I am a man, and oppression offends my nature…. I want to restore to the sons and daughters of this unhappy race, family, honour and freedom”
“Human Trafficking Awareness Day” was honored in the US on Friday Jan11th.
Trafficking in persons…..Human trafficking, the New Slavery…Are this more than jargon! Human Trafficking does really exist, but it takes many different forms. It touches ordinary people and families who are drawn into a deep dark pit of hopelessness, often through poverty, money, greed and sometimes adventure and power.
An Assumption Sister of Nairobishared how her two nieces applied for jobs after seeing an advertisement in the newspaper. It offered a good salary and many perks. They called the agency. They were asked to go for an interview. They were very excited and prepared themselves. They left the house happy together, with their parents as excited as they were….They left….never to be seen again alive...
Human Trafficking is the world’s best money earner after drugs and small arms. It is estimated by US Government’s yearly Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report of the U.S. Department of State that in 2011 32 billion US Dollars was made out of the innocent blood of 800,000 human persons who were trafficked within or across international boundaries, half of whom were children. It is estimated that 12.3 million adults and children are currently held in modern day slavery which includes forced labour and prostitution. There are many more who are trafficked within there own national boundaries for forced labour, bonded labour, sexual servitude and involuntary servitude.
In 2012 Pope Benedict XVI wrote “The trafficking of human persons or organ harvesting as well as the exploitation of minors abandoned into the hands of individuals without scruples and undergoing abuse and torture sadly, often happens”.
Near to his own death Cardinal Lavigerie, who fought the first fight against slavery, sadly said “Few people, too few people have the ultimate vocation: humanity”.
Do we have a special responsibility as baptized Christians who hear this affirmation from God; “You are my beloved!”?
Patricia Datchuck Sánchez, reflects on the moral struggle of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
“A Christian”, said Bonhoeffer, “does not merely profess to believe in Christ but experiences and lives Christ in the world” (Testament to Freedom, Harper Collins, San Francisco: 1995). “An authentic Christian makes Christ the center of his or her life. Rather than fleeing from the world to remain holy, Christians become holy by immersing themselves in the world in order to know and alleviate the plight of others. When all others are silent, the Christian dares to question, “Who is Jesus?” “Where is Jesus to be found?”
In 1933 Germany, Bonhoeffer said that he recognized the suffering face of Jesus in the persecuted Jews and imprisoned dissidents. Of church leaders who seemed blind to the Nazis’ crimes, Bonhoeffer asked, “Where is Abel, your brother?” Bonhoeffer was appalled by the church’s refusal to speak or act, and called for an uncompromising embrace of Jesus’ teachings. He challenged his contemporaries, and especially the leaders of the community, to return to the costly grace of their baptism. “We have gathered,” wrote Bonhoeffer, “round the carcass of cheap grace and there we have drunk the poison which has killed the life of following Christ” (The Cost of Discipleship,
Therefore, if Jesus was baptized in order to be a man for others, even if it cost him his life, then “every baptized believer who would be known by the name ‘Christian’ is to express … faith through courageous service to all who struggle and suffer in this world.” Unquote
Those exploiting women, and children (boys and girls) have failed to live their primary vocation to be a human being. To repeat the words of Cardinal Lavigerie, “Few people, too few people have the ultimate vocation: humanity”.
In the preface of our Oblate rule, St. Eugene said the goal of Oblates was to “lead people to act like human beings, first of all, and then like Christians, and, finally, we must help them to become saints.”