Paul tells us in the Second Reading, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. Paul has John say I am not he. No, but one is coming after me. I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals of his feet. John knew who he was. He knew who he was not. He knew his mission: to preach a baptism of repentance to all people of Israel. His mission was limited to Israel. But he knew his preaching was not complete because the One coming after him will preach and bring redemption and salvation. We see then, redemption and salvation come only after repentance. While Jesus died for all as payment for our sins, that payment is useless if we do not repent. Unrepentance rejects the free gift of redemption Jesus gives. Which is why St Paul said in the Second Reading: You descendants of Abraham’s family and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. The message of salvation is we are redeemed by Jesus when we repent of our sins, and in this repentance, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to give us power to live the life of holiness towards our salvation.
Redemption happens at the moment we repent. It happens when Jesus applies the merits of his death to us at our repentance. Salvation is the goal of our lives. We move towards salvation by continuously responding to God’s invitation and repenting whenever we fail to respond to it, hoping that as we will eventually be saved and enter into his Presence
In the Gospel today, at his circumcision, people wonder about John the Baptist: What then will this child become? This is also the question parents have about their children. Most will have high hopes of their children. The First Reading tells us: The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. God calls us, including our children, while we were in our mother’s womb. God’s call begins not after baptism, but in our mother’s womb, at conception.
Ephesians 1:4-5 tells us As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in love. Who has predestined us to the adoption of children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the purpose of his will. From eternity, God has a plan for us. God wants us to be holy and blameless so we can live with him in love. He does not want us to be his slaves, but his adopted children through Jesus Christ. God calls us where we are, just as we are. God created us specifically for this time and place. He put you where you are because he has a plan for you and a mission for you. It is not to be rich, or powerful or famous. The First Reading tells us: I will give you as a light of the nations, so that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. We are called to preach the salvation of God to the ends of the earth.
You might ask: who am I to do this? The Responsorial Psalm tells us: God searched you and knows you. He formed you in your mother’s womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! God has formed you to preach his salvation to the end of the earth. Isaiah said in the First Reading: I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God. We may not see ourselves as worthy of God’s call. Or we may have done what we think the Lord wants and not find success. But then our confidence is in the Lord. He is the One who calls us. What you are is all he needs. Who you are is all he needs
Parents, our goal in life, is not to help our children succeed in life. But our goal as parents is to help them live out God’s call to them: to be a light of nations, to proclaim God’s salvation to the ends of the earth. While our children are precious to us, they are far more precious to God. We are given this privilege to mold them so they can do what God wants them to do. To paraphrase St Mother Teresa of Calcutta, our goal for our children is not for them to be successful, but for them to be faithful to God. They will never find life in material success. They will find life only in Jesus Christ
Jesus, I am here. I repent of my sins. Let me hear your call to holiness and let me obey you as I journey towards your will for me. Teach me how to proclaim your salvation to the ends of the earth, especially to those who are close to me. I may not see much of myself, but the truth is, I am wonderfully made by you. You are enough for me. My cause is in your hands. Let your will be done