Sealed With the Holy Spirit
When I was thirteen years old, I had a choice to either become a protestant or a Catholic since my family were not believers. Even though I had been studying in a Catholic school, I had been exposed also to Protestantism because of my classmates and relatives. The reason I chose to become a Catholic was very simple. As a kid, I did not know anything about the church history or the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Nor did I know much about the teachings of Jesus. All I knew at that time was to love your neighbor as yourself and love your enemy. That was the teaching that had stuck in my head. When I mentioned something about the Catholics to my protestant classmates or relatives, they usually had a lot of bad things to say about them. On the contrary, when I talked to my Catholic classmates or even priests about Protestants, they usually accepted them as brothers and sisters in Christ. That made me feel the Catholics were more truthful to the teaching of Christ than the Protestants and was how I made my decision to become Catholic. That’s the mentality of a 13-year-old kid.
This Sunday we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord which reminds us of our own baptism. John the Baptist in the gospel reminded his disciples even though he baptized Jesus, he was not greater than Jesus. The heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus to confirm. Jesus, as the son well pleased by the Father, has made the mountain low and the valley filled in for us to reach the Father. The hole opened in heaven that day has never shut since then thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus. This spirit of sacrifice continued through John by handing over his disciples to Jesus and becoming a martyr later on. The disciples of Jesus did the same by sacrificing their lives so the next generation could continue the teaching of Jesus. We are the beneficiaries of those sacrifices. The Catholics I met when I was a kid also did the sacrifice by not claiming they were greater than the protestant. It was because of that I was brought into the Catholic Church.
When we are baptized and confirmed, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides us to live a Christian life, without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we are living our own life. The righteousness of John the Baptist was balanced by his humility. He testified with his life by pointing out that Herod had broken the law of the people at the time. Yet, he was humble enough to ask his followers to follow Christ instead. This was the work of the Holy Spirit. How do we behave as Catholics in society and in the church? Do we act like John the Baptist as a righteous person but without the humility part? Whenever we speak righteously and drive people away, the Holy Spirit is not there. We are acting on our own. When John the Baptist and the disciples of Jesus pointed out the sinfulness of the people at that time, how did the people react? They were drawn to John the Baptist and the disciples of Jesus because they were not acting on their behalf but on behalf of the Holy Spirit. In order to live out our baptismal promises, we must act, but act in the Holy Spirit.