Affirmed in Love
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

The Baptism of the Lord by John marks the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus (Mt. 3:13-17). For the past weeks of the Christmas season, the Lord is featured as the little child. In the Philippines, we extend the season of the childhood of Jesus by celebrating the Feast of the Sto. Nino on the third Sunday of January, or next Sunday. We have to acknowledge however that Jesus grew up in wisdom and age and favor with God and men (Luke 2:52). The Lord Jesus grew up to adulthood and maturity.

The insights of developmental psychology show us that human beings pass through different stages of growth as they go through life from childhood to old age. Erik H. Erikson details eight stages of human development. In each stage there is a “nuclear conflict” that has to be resolved. Growth happens when these tensions or conflicts are properly resolved, otherwise a “fixation” happens that impedes one’s human development.

Childhood and adolescence are important phases. It is in childhood that one is affirmed in love, learns to be an autonomous person, and realizes that she can do things and bring activities to successful accomplishments. It is in adolescence that the task of answering the question, “Who am I?” takes place. The boy or girl discovers his or her identity as a human being. It is a time when teenagers test their physical skills to the limit. It is a time of discovering one’s special skills and showing them off (dancing, singing, doing athletic activities). It is a time when one learns social skills through relationships with peers, adults, and special friends.

Action starter: Affirm your loved ones. Make them know you love them.

We then grow into adulthood. Hopefully we have negotiated the earlier stages in such a way that we grow to become affective (loving) and effective (competent) adults. The mature adult is one who is able to establish and maintain caring relationships as well as commit himself to successfully perform certain tasks and projects. He is able to love and to work. He is a friend, husband, father, neighbor, and citizen besides being a farmer, engineer, businessman, or politician. She is a wife, confidante, and mother while she may be practicing her work as nurse, teacher, housekeeper, or social worker.

We are able to work and to serve effectively and in a much inspired manner if we know that we are loved and we are doing what we are doing because of people we love. Affirmed in love we are able to proceed with our mission in an enthusiastic and life-giving manner.

Before Jesus started his public ministry, he was baptized in the river Jordan. He has experienced the loving affirmations of Mary and Joseph as He grew up in Nazareth. He experienced the warm acceptance of relatives and friends among his neighborhood. On the day of His baptism a special affirmation takes place, “he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’.”

Jesus is the Beloved One. Given this affirmation, Jesus proceeded with His public ministry of preaching, healing, comforting, and as the second reading says, “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).

There is a message here for parents, mentors, and those who take care of young people. Do we affirm those under our care that they are loved, lovable, and beloved? Let us look at our child-rearing practices. Are the children assured that they are loved, even as they also undergo certain disciplines? Without discipline a child can grow up spoiled and incapable of working. Without affectionate assurances, they may grow up to be cold and incapable of loving.

Jesus is our model of a person who lovingly accomplished the mission He received from the Father. Affirmed in love, he persevered up to the Cross.