Saturday, January 10, 2009

January 11, 2009: Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

Did you know that a baby cannot recognize its own mother and father when she is newly born? At the hospital nursery you have moms and dads waiting on the other side of the window trying to see which one is theirs. The infant does not raise its hands and say, "Hey mom and dad, I'm here!" That's because for the first two months, a baby can only see as far as 8 to 10 inches. That is enough distance for a nursing baby to begin to recognize what her mother's face look like. This is a time of bonding between an infant and her mother. As the baby's vision sharpens, then she begin to recognize her dad. Around how many months old does the baby recognize her own name? Some mothers report that around 5 months, their child turn their head when called by their name. Around 8 to 9 months, she'll begin to say 'mama' or 'dada,' but it will be another few months before she says it to the right person.

In her early infant years, when the baby does not recognize her own mom and dad, do you think she is loved any less by her mom and dad? The baby may not have been aware, but the loving gaze of her parents were on her since her conception. During the day mom spends all her time with her infant, nursing her, changing her diapers, and puttin her to sleep. By evening, daddy returns from work giving mom some break, and as the night sets in, he listens intently to the baby monitor as his daughter sleeps. Mom and dad are still happy even when their child does not respond to her own name being called. The parents know that each child is unique and different; for each child there will be the right time when he or she responds when being called by name.

Was Heavenly Father disappointed with me not having responded to His call earlier in my life? I think the answer is no. Even if He had called in my high school years, I would not have responded because I did not know that I was a child of God. Did Heavenly Father love me less because I did not recognize His voice? Once again, no. As a human mother and father recognizes the unique development of each child, while I was taking my own time growing in my learning of Him, He never left His gaze upon me.

Have you ever wondered why Heavenly Father called Jesus into active ministry at the age of 30 beginning with his baptism by John the Baptist? Why not call Jesus in his teenage years like King David who had to face Goliath? Then instead of three short years of ministry, he would have had more than 15 years of ministry. That is a great mystery isn't it? Why did Heavenly Father call Fr. Burns, Fr. Blanchard, Sr. Rosary, and Sr. Carmen early in their life so that they could give more than 40 years of service toward ministry? Why did Heavenly Father call me at the age of 29 rather than 14 like many of our dedicated priests who went to high school seminary, when I was allowed to graduate college and work as an engineer for several years?

The point is that it is never too early or too late when we begin to recognize that our name is being called by Heavenly Father. He recognizes that each of us is unique, and our call is unique. In my case, Heavenly Father waited for me to grow spiritually before entering the seminary. Whereas in high school I denied Heavenly Father's existence, I had to be nursed in Blessed Mother's arms to nourish myself with the Word, Jesus her Son so that all the darkness and fear that were in my heart had to be vanquished. Jesus led me to the Blessed Mother, and she led me to her spouse, the Holy Spirit through the Charismatic Renewal, and finally, the Holy Spirit revealed to me the Heavenly Father as a real person, whom I call "Daddy" or "Papa." As St. Paul reminds us in Letter to the Romans, "[We] received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, 'Abba, Father!' The [Holy] Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." (Romans 8:15-16) When we are called, and when we recognize that we are 'Called by Name,' you know it is the right time, for Heavenly Father waited for the right time to call us as He waited for the right time to call Jesus into public ministry with his baptism. We need not worry about whether we are well equipped to do what He calls us for, for He has prepared us already. And He gives us great assurance today to answer His call, "You are my beloved son and daughter, with you I'm well pleased."