LAST Sunday, the 10th of January, was the feast of the solemnity of the Baptism of Christ. God, through St. John the Baptist, made public the Godship of Jesus. St. John bowed to the authority of God and with all faith proclaimed that the kingdom is now at hand.

St. John, the Baptist was a person of great conviction and was ahead of his time. He shouted against the practices in government. He called on the abuses of the religious leaders. He called on everyone to participate actively in the transformation of the society. He words were simple yet were very piercing. Many were hurt and were irritated by the statements of St. John. In fact, St. John was persecuted due to his frankness on the issue of adultery by his captor.

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We have to see St. John as our model and if we cannot do what he had done, we have at least to support people who stand by the truth. We shall look for the way of truth and dispel all the other untruths. The falsity of the times comes as beautiful and tempting realities. One could be tempted only by sensual things - by things that appeal to the senses. Things that are not "sensual" are often dispelled.

Today, we are faced by many sensuous things that we have forgotten the core of our existence. We have placed God and our values behind and we have grabbed the worldly "-isms". Christ is no longer the center of our lives, but the things that answer our sensual appetites become the core and essence of our beings.

A good friend of mine shared that in their place, teenagers have a high sense of morality and integrity. She shared that in their place, families spend their incomes on food rather than on bar hopping or drinking in bars. Their place is somewhere in the north of Negros and people there would put their income on better things.

The youth of today in urban areas are so much engrossed with materialism. What is "in" for them are things that satisfy their external senses. Many would spend more hours in front of PC's searching for useless things or surfing for information that are not useful. Many would put their time on these things than putting more time with Christ. Take the case of the Christmas season, many young people made it a season for drinking and outings but many failed to see the essence of the season.

Mr. Faraon Lopez shared a nice thought to me early m orning of yesterday. He gave a sort but meaningful note about respect. This is one simple thing that many of us today have forgotten. We see people who are older than us but most often we forget to give our respect to them. I quote his simple thought about respect:

"Respect has lost its way or so it seems. Not just respect for ones elders, or some longstanding tradition or institution, Not even just respect for ourselves. Respect appears to also be missing from the journey that we choose to take, the path we decide. When walking down this path, always respect where you came from, where you're going and who walked upon it before you."

The traditions of the Church shall be respected. It should be known to the young people. The attitude of "kanya-kanya" should be thrown out. The values from the old times shall always be taken as those that could make us better persons.

The baptism of Christ is a reminder to each one of us that God made Himself as man so he could reach out to us. He also reminds us that His Kingdom is here on earth and now. We have to make other people feel the goodness of the Kingdom of the Father. We must and should always see that heaven or the Kingdom of God in our own context.

God will always be there to remind us and tell us of our obligations as real Christians and Catholics. It is our obligation to help others so that they will feel the presence of God.

St. Ezekiel Moreno and Pope John Paul II, pray for us.