(By Rev Fr Joseph Nyarko Asare, Obuasi Diocese)
Reflection: July 12-19th ,2020- Religion was meant to give, protect, and promote freedom. Then, crooked fellows used same to restrict, enslave, and manipulate the simple minds. The problem now is that: those who know the distortion are either afraid to correct it or are misrepresented as irreligious. Unfortunately, people are so ignorant that some even feel sermons are more powerful than the Bible; common sense is now considered an unwanted, second hand good instead of seeing it as a valuable gift of God; and we have people who know powerful commentaries and preachers more than Jesus and the Bible.
As a Christian, baptism opened the door of grace for me. I am a Christian because, after believing, I got baptized. Being a Catholic, I consulted the official faith teachings (Catechism) of the Church and discovered the following. By summary, part (yes, just some) of the effects of baptism (Cf. CCC 1263-1265) are: regeneration and renewal. Baptism causes purification from sins (let me add, and slavery) and gives a new birth in the Holy Spirit. It makes one a new creature; an adopted child of God, who becomes a partaker of the divine nature, member of Christ and a coheir with Him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Now, this is a real elevation, a great empowerment, a reason to be bold, cheerful, enterprising, etc. Becoming a Christian is never a life of timidity, naivity, stupidity, and servitude. We don’t even join a social club to be miserable; how much more a spiritual union with God as patron and chairman. Only a fool joins a group that makes him/her worse off. Becoming a Christian is not a change of prison sentence or a change of our slave master.
We do not get out of the rule of sin (death, evil, Satan) to become a slave of a pius system, revered leadership, and untouchable authority. Never allow any minister of God to suppress or enslave you with fear or unwholesome screwed teachings. Please, know God’s Word and seek personal intimacy with Him. The Church’s role is to facilitate this life in holiness, freedom, and authentic joy.
My capacity to growth, self actualisation, discovery, inner peace, and genuine joy must be enhanced when I become a member of the body of Christ. Like Paul, without being coerced or intimidated, I must begin to see a deep change and value that make me see my current state as far better than my previous life. This must be an experiential knowledge and not a mere speculative rhetoric.
Permit me to explain the effects of baptism further with a direct quote of CCC 1266: “The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:
- enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
- allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
Thus the whole organism of the Christian’s supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.
I don’t know why believers become more vulnerable after embracing Jesus. Possibly, they do not encounter Jesus; they only meet a crooked self-made-agent of Christ or a fake community. At best, they become part of good-intentioned community with no touch of the freedom Jesus gives.
We will continue our discussion under the sub-theme ” Wretchedness is not Spiritual Poverty”. But, permit me to end with a word about Joseph, the head of the Holy Family and a symbol of religiousity and authentic service to God. Joseph became God’s unique instrument and earthly father of Jesus. He, however, died as a known accomplishec carpenter who did not quit his skills because he was taking care of Jesus. Never throw your reason and skill away because of baptism. May the calling rather empower you to put reason and skill to the best use