FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
St. Peter's Square
Sunday, January 12, 2020
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Once again I had the joy of baptizing some children on today's feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Today there were thirty-two. Let us pray for them and their families.
This year's liturgy offers us the event of the baptism of Jesus according to the story of the Gospel of Matthew (cf 3: 13-17). The evangelist describes the dialogue between Jesus, who asks for baptism, and John the Baptist, who he wants to refuse and observes: "It is I who need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?" (v. 14). This decision of Jesus surprises the Baptist: in fact, the Messiah does not need to be purified; it is He who purifies. But God is the Saint, his ways are not ours, and Jesus is the Way of God, an unpredictable way. Recall that God is the God of surprises.
John had declared that there was an abysmal, unbridgeable distance between him and Jesus. "I am not worthy to bring him sandals" (Mt 3:11), he said. But the Son of God came precisely to bridge this distance between man and God. If Jesus is all on the side of God, it is also all on the side of man, and brings together what was divided. For this reason he replies to John: "Leave it for now, because it is fitting that we fulfill all justice" (v. 15). The Messiah asks to be baptized, for all justice to be fulfilled, the Father's plan to be fulfilled, which passes through the path of filial obedience and solidarity with the fragile and sinful man. It is the way of humility and full closeness of God to his children.
Even the prophet Isaiah announces the justice of the Servant of God, who carries out his mission in the world with a style contrary to the worldly spirit: "He will not cry or raise his tone, he will not make his voice heard in the square, he will not break a cracked cane, he will not put out a wick with a dull flame "(42,2-3). It is the attitude of meekness - this is what Jesus teaches us with his humility, meekness -, the attitude of simplicity, respect, moderation and concealment, required even today of the Lord's disciples. How many - it is sad to say - how many disciples of the Lord strive to be disciples of the Lord. It is not a good disciple who prefers. The good disciple is the humble, meek one, the one who does good without being seen. In missionary action, the Christian community is called to go out to meet others always by proposing and not imposing, giving testimony, sharing the concrete life of the people.
As soon as Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove, while a voice rang out from above saying: «This is my Son, my beloved: in him I have placed the my pleasure "(Mt 3:17). On the feast of the Baptism of Jesus we rediscover our Baptism. Just as Jesus is the beloved Son of the Father, we too born of water and the Holy Spirit know that we are loved children - the Father loves us all! -, object of God's complacency, brothers of many other brothers, invested with a great mission to testify and announce to all men the Father's boundless love.
This feast of the baptism of Jesus reminds us of our Baptism. We too are reborn in Baptism. In Baptism the Holy Spirit came to remain in us. This is why it is important to know what the date of our baptism is. We know what the date of our birth is, but we don't always know what the date of our Baptism is. Surely some of you don't know ... A homework assignment. When you come back, ask: when was I baptized? When was I baptized? And celebrate the date of baptism in your heart every year. Do it. It is also a duty of justice towards the Lord who has been so good to us.
May Mary Most Holy help us to understand more and more the gift of Baptism and to live it consistently in everyday situations.
After the Angelus
I extend to all of you, dear Romans and pilgrims, my cordial greeting: to families, parish groups, associations, and individual faithful.
I greet the young people of the Focolare Movement from Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay and Korea who have come to Rome for a training course one hundred years after the birth of the Servant of God Chiara Lubich.
I greet the faithful from Otranto and the "Alma Gaudia" choir from Manduria.
I wish you all a good Sunday. And please don't forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye.