First reading Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.
I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its plants,
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.
Psalm Luke 1: 46-48, 49-50, 53-54My soul rejoices in my God.
Second reading 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.
May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.
Gospel John 1:6-8, 19-28
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, "Who are you?"
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, "I am not the Christ."
So they asked him,
"What are you then? Are you Elijah?"
And he said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
He answered, "No."
So they said to him,
"Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?"
"I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
'make straight the way of the Lord,'"
as Isaiah the prophet said."
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
"Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?"
John answered them,
"I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.
The Better Path
By Grace B. Madriñan
"I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie." - John 1:19-28
Such humility from St. John the Baptist, considering the high regard he receives from his followers. He could have easily snatched the limelight from Jesus, and pretended to be the Messiah. But John stayed true to his role and served his mission.
Whenever I read about humility, I can’t help but be reminded of Cardinal Chito Tagle who was Bishop of the Diocese of Imus then when I encountered him. Being part of the parish choir in Dasmariñas, he would often celebrate Mass during parish feasts. I always look forward to his anecdotes during homily which never failed to bring the house down with laughter. His homily is always lively, but never misses the point of the Gospel. I know because I still recall some of his stories and lessons.
But given his popularity, he remained a simple servant. I would even see him visiting the Parish Office casually without any assistants, inviting strangers to share lunch with him. His charisma is overflowing that people flock to him whenever he is around, he is very approachable and does not mind taking a selfie with him (I do have one!).
I don’t know if Cardinal Tagle can still manage to go anywhere nowadays without an assistant or a bodyguard, but I do believe that his position did not tarnish his heart. He remained humble in the midst of attacks against the Church, despite harsh words coming from the government. He did not fight back with words, he answered with understanding and love. He continued to preach about peace, mercy, compassion, and care for human life. He neither claimed to know the law nor insisted on his solution. Instead he proceeds to do what is just by attending to the poor and needy. He could have used his position and charm to influence the people to despise the government, but chose the better path.
Lord God, create in me a humble heart. May we – especially all clergy and religious - be always reminded of our true calling as Your servants and not be caught in the trap of self-glorification. Amen.
Lord Jesus, You came to be with Your people, especially the needy. Today, we will join any activity in our parish that will reach out to the poor. We may not end all violence, but united with You, we can save one soul at a time, not by our words but our genuine care for their well-being. Amen.
(Grace is currently Anluwage.com's Features Editor. She is a Certified Business Analyst Professional [CBAP®] recipient and an IT professional working for an international insurance company in Quezon City.)