BAPTISM IS NOT ENOUGH! Prayer Reflection for Tuesday of the 25th week in Ordinary Time.

After Baptism what next? Yes, through baptism we become adopted sons and daughters of God and members of the church and therefore are invited to participate in Divine life and graces in the church forever. But it is one thing to take a horse to the river, and another to let it drink water! If you have been baptised (whether as infant or as an adult) there's still something needed of you. If you wish to know read slowly:

Luke 8:19-21
The mother and the brothers of Jesus came looking for him, but they could not get to him because of the crowd. He was told, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see you.’ But he said in answer, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.’

POINTS FOR REFLECTION
1. Yes it is one thing to be baptised but another to live out concretely one's baptismal promises to choose good always and reject evil in all its forms. The grace of the Holy Spirit received at baptism must be kept alive through witnessing. No wonder St. Paul admonishes his disciple Timothy to fan into flames the gift of God already received through laying on of hands (2 Tim.1:6). But how can one live out concretely Christian values so as to persevere as member in the family of Jesus in a world filled with different ideologies claiming "truth value" as well? 

2. Child of God it is by "continuous hearing" of the Word of God. Hence Jesus puts this first: "My mother and brothers are those who hear the Word of God..." Even though several interpretations have been given to this text (both positive and negative interpretations that despises Mary and Christ's family), however, the true meaning of the text lie on the fact that membership in Jesus' family is not dependent only on physical descent but also spiritual. Hence the response of Christ does not despise Mary or Jesus' relatives but an affirmation that they are those who hear the Word of God and practice it. Hence this is a reaffirmation of Mary before "the crowd" which becomes very clear when Christ gives his mother to us Christians as mother and as exemplar of perfect discipleship when he says to John "son behold thy mother" (John 19:26).

3. Child of God, you also have to be careful of the crowd! Why? Because the Bible tells us that the family of Jesus "could not get to him because of the crowd." This is not just a literal understanding of crowd as "many people" but should be understood as the "forces in the world" and in the world there are good and bad crowds. The Bible in relation to Christ's mission describes the crowd with suspicion: they are sometimes those who resist the Word of God (Lk 4:29-30) or stand as blockades to the liberation of the God's Children as in the case of Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-4) the blind man (Lk 18:35-43), they sometimes act like "accusers of the brethren" like the crowd who demanded the crucifixion of Jesus (Lk. 23:21). Today the crowd should be understood as the world filled with noise preventing us from hearing the Word of God that comes through silence (Ps. 19:3-4), a still small voice like Elijah experienced (1 Kings 19:12), a silent voice that is heard only through prayer and meditation for silence is the language of God.

3. I hear you ask: How often should I hear the Word of God? I answer: always, because faith cometh by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17) and the Word of God is inspired by God and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2Tim.3:16). Let the Word of God be your daily bread, only then can it truly become part of you: desire to hear it always! Read it always! Pray with it and you will be surprised how it naturally affects your mind by directing your thoughts to bring out something useful and practical. That is what practising the word of God is all about.

TASK: Ask yourself: How much do I appreciate the Word of God? When last did I read and study my bible? Do you realise when you don't feed your soul (the Spirit) it dies just as the body dies without nourishment! Spiritual death comes when there's loss of Divine Word or beatific vision! This is what hell fire is all about. Some are already experiencing their hell on earth! Are you in that "hell" you still have opportunity to come out now. 

▪︎Fr. SimOne Madu, OSJ 

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