Blog & Pastor Letters

The Fountain of Salvation

01-10-2021Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

Pope Francis appoints new Cardinals from around the Catholic world. Appointing a Cardinal in the Catholic Church is a recognition by the Holy Father, which in another way, is a call by God to a higher responsibility. The position is next in rank to that of the pontiff and one can be appointed a pope in the future as well.

As I read the news on Vatican websites, I notice that the appointments are always spread mainly from Catholic populations across the world especially among minorities. For example, Myanmar (also known as Burma) has never had a Cardinal until 2015. Thus, the appointment of Archbishop Charles Maung Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon was meant to enhance the faith of over 700,000 Catholics amid 50 million Burmese of other faiths. While some criticize the appointment of Archbishop Bo because of his age, the Vatican feels that the wisdom of this old man will unite all other faiths in Myanmar and shine the light of Jesus in the region.

Undeniably, Christians are supposed to shine the light of Jesus for all the world to see. Today is the celebration of the baptism of Jesus. Many people always ask: Did Jesus need any baptism? Baptism is an acceptance of God’s abundant grace which allows us to be initiated in his love. Jesus did not need any baptism to continue his ministry, but he accepted baptism from John to show us an example so that we may follow. The words of John the Baptist are solemn, “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” John the Baptist baptized Jesus because he knew He was chosen for a mightier task ahead. John accepted his role as a precursor and played very well before the coming of Jesus.

Another question to ask is can acceptance of baptism mean that an individual is saved? The answer is not pleasant. Baptism does not automatically guarantee salvation. Remember the words of Jesus in the Bible, “It’s not those who call me Lord, Lord that will enter the Kingdom of heaven but those who do the will of my father in heaven”? (Matt. 7: 21-23). Those who are baptized into the Church are given the opportunity to be Christ-like and godly in their approach to life. Those baptized must radiate Jesus in word and in deeds. Prophet Isaiah says, “Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked man his thoughts; let him turn to the Lord for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.” This passage of Isaiah is an emphasis on the benevolence of God allowing the sinner to repent with a promise to enjoy a new life in God.

St. John the evangelist, the writer of the Letter of St. John mentions that our victory is through birth by water. And since we are new creatures immersed in God’s grace, we need to testify to the goodness of God by living holy lives. John says, “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.” Those who are called to be saved have been given every tool to achieve it.

Pope Francis appoints Cardinals based on the needs of the Church around the world. These appointments should motivate us to come closer to Jesus and shine his light for all the world to see. The pope’s vision is never to neglect the “least of these brethren of mine,” by appointing Cardinals from minority locations. You too have been called by Jesus because he loves who you are not what you are. Do not wait to be appointed by the pope before you practice goodness or love those around you. Baptism gives us the greenlight to be holy, perfect, and loving before the final day of Judgment. Salvation awaits you because you are God’s beloved child. Keep praying!According to the law of the Church, every individual desiring to be a member should be baptized. Of the seven Sacraments in the Catholic Church, baptism is the first to be administered. In baptism, we shed off the old garment of sin and wear a new garment of light. By accepting baptism, we pledge to follow the example of Jesus who preached love, forgiveness, and eternal life.