St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 13 January 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!
Today, at the end of the liturgical season of Christmas, we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The liturgy calls us to know Jesus more fully, of whom we have recently celebrated birth; and for this reason the Gospel (cf. Lk 3: 15-16.21-22) illustrates two important elements: the relationship of Jesus with the people and the relationship of Jesus with the Father.
In the story of the baptism, bestowed by John the Baptist on Jesus in the waters of the Jordan, we first see the role of the people. Jesus is in the midst of the people. It is not only a background of the scene, but is an essential component of the event. Before plunging into the water, Jesus "plunges" into the crowd, joins it and fully assumes the human condition, sharing everything except sin. In his divine holiness, full of grace and mercy, the Son of God became flesh to take upon himself and take away the sin of the world: to take our miseries, our human condition. Therefore today's too is an epiphany, because by going to be baptized by John, among the penitent people of his people, Jesus manifests the logic and meaning of his mission.
By joining the people who ask John for the Baptism of conversion, Jesus also shares the deep desire for interior renewal. And the Holy Spirit who descends on Him "in bodily form, like a dove" (v.22) is the sign that with Jesus begins a new world, a "new creation" which includes all those who welcome Christ in their life. Also to each of us, who are reborn with Christ in Baptism, the words of the Father are addressed: "You are my beloved Son: in you I have expressed my pleasure" (v. 22). This love of the Father, which we have received all of us on the day of our baptism, is a flame that has been lit in our hearts, and requires us to be nourished by prayer and charity.
The second element emphasized by the Evangelist Luke is that after immersion in the people and in the waters of the Jordan, Jesus "immerses" himself in prayer, that is, in communion with the Father. Baptism is the beginning of the public life of Jesus, of his mission in the world as an envoy of the Father to manifest his goodness and his love for men. This mission is accomplished in constant and perfect union with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Even the mission of the Church and that of each one of us, to be faithful and fruitful, is called to "graft" onto that of Jesus. It is a matter of continuously regenerating evangelization and apostolate in prayer, to make a clear Christian witness. not according to human projects, but according to God's plan and style.
Dear brothers and sisters, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a favorable opportunity to renew with gratitude and conviction the promises of our Baptism, committing ourselves to live daily in harmony with it. It is also very important, as I have told you several times, to know the date of our Baptism. I could ask: "Who among you knows the date of his baptism?". Not all, for sure. If any of you do not know her, coming home, ask her parents, grandparents, uncles, godparents, family friends ... Ask: "On what date have I been baptized, have I been baptized?". And then do not forget it: it is a date kept in the heart to celebrate it every year.
Jesus, who has saved us not for our merits but to carry out the immense goodness of the Father, makes us all merciful. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, be our guide and our model.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters!
I address all of you, dear Romans and pilgrims, my cordial greeting.
I greet the professors and students of Los Santos de Maimona and Talavera la Real, Spain; the parish groups from Poland, and also the Polish neocatechumenals - you have come to celebrate Kiko's birthday, surely! -; as well as greeting the faithful of Loreto and Vallemare, province of Rieti.
This morning, according to the custom of this party, I had the joy of baptizing a nice group of newborns. We pray for them and for their families. And, on this occasion, I renew to everyone the invitation to keep the memory of one's baptism alive and up-to-date. There are the roots of our life in God there; the roots of our eternal life, which Jesus gave us with his Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection. In Baptism there are the roots! And let us never forget the date of our baptism.