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Monday, January 4, 2016

0446: Reflections on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord by Pope Francis



Entry 0446: Reflections on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord 

by Pope Francis (Updated) 




On 
three occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, on 12 January 2014, 11 January 2015, and 10 January 2016. Here are the texts of the three reflections prior to the recitation of the Angelus and three homilies delivered on these occasions.


FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 12 January 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This morning I baptized 32 infants. With you I thank the Lord for these creatures and for every new life. I am glad to baptize babies. I like it very much! Every newborn child is a gift of joy and hope, and each baby that is baptized is a miracle of faith and a celebration for the family of God.

Today’s page from the Gospel emphasizes that, when Jesus had received baptism from John in the River Jordan, “the heavens were opened” to him (Mt 3:16). This fulfills the prophecies. In fact, there is an invocation which the liturgy has us repeat during the Season of Advent: “O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down” (Is 64:1). If the heavens remain closed, our horizon in this earthly life is dark and without hope. Instead, in celebrating Christmas, once again faith has given us the certainty that the heavens have been rent with the coming of Christ. And on the day of the baptism of Christ we continue to contemplate the heavens opened. The manifestation of the Son of God on earth marks the beginning of the great time of mercy, after sin had closed the heavens, raising itself as a barrier between the human being and his Creator. With the birth of Jesus the heavens open! God gives us in Christ the guarantee of an indestructible love. From the moment the Word became flesh it is therefore possible to see the open heavens. It was possible for the shepherds of Bethlehem, for the Magi of the East, for the Baptist, for Jesus’ Apostles, and for St Stephen, the first martyr, who exclaimed: “Behold, I see the heavens opened!” (Acts 7:56). And it is possible for each one of us, if we allow ourselves to be suffused with God’s love, which is given to us for the first time in Baptism by means of the Holy Spirit. Let us allow ourselves to be invaded by God’s love! This is the great time of mercy! Do not forget it: this is the great time of Mercy!

When Jesus received the baptism of repentance from John the Baptism, showing solidarity with the repentant people—He without sin and with no need for conversion—God the Father made his voice heard from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (v. 17). Jesus receives approval from the heavenly Father, who sent him precisely that he might accept to share our condition, our poverty. Sharing is the true way to love. Jesus does not dissociate himself from us, he considers us brothers and sisters and he shares with us. And so he makes us sons and daughters, together with him, of God the Father. This is the revelation and source of true love. And this is the great time of mercy!

Does it not seem to you that in our own time extra fraternal sharing and love is needed? Does it not seem to you that we all need extra charity? Not the sort that is content with extemporaneous help which does not involve or stake anything, but that charity that shares, that takes on the hardship and suffering of a brother. What flavor life acquires when we allow ourselves to be inundated by God’s love!

Let us ask the Holy Virgin to support us by her intercession in our commitment to follow Christ on the way of faith and charity, the path traced out by our Baptism.


 FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
MASS AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 12 January 2014

Jesus did not need to be baptized, but the first theologians say that, with his body, with his divinity, in baptism he blessed all the waters, so that the waters would have the power to confer baptism. And then, before ascending to Heaven, Jesus told us to go into all the world to baptize. And from that day forward up until today, this has been an uninterrupted chain: they baptized their children, and their children their own, and those children. And also today this chain continues.

These children are a link in a chain. You parents have a baby boy or girl to baptize, but in some years they will have a child to baptize, or a grandchild. Such is the chain of faith! What does this mean? I would like to tell you only this: you are those who transmit the faith, the transmitters; you have a duty to hand on the faith to these children. It is the most beautiful inheritance you will leave to them: the faith! Only this. Today, take this thought home with you. We must be transmitters of the faith. Think about this, always think about how to hand on the faith to your children.

Today the choir sings, but the most beautiful choir is the children making noise. Some of them will cry, because they are uncomfortable or because they are hungry: if they are hungry, mothers, feed them with ease, because they are the most important ones here. And now, with this awareness of being transmitters of the faith, let us continue with the rite of Baptism.


FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 11 January 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism, which concludes the Christmas season. The Gospel describes what happens on the bank of the Jordan. At the time that John the Baptist baptizes Jesus, the heavens opened. “When he came up out of the water,” St Mark writes, “immediately he saw the heavens opened” (1:10). This brings to mind the dramatic supplication of the Prophet Isaiah: “O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down” (Is 64:1). This invocation was granted at the event of the Baptism of Jesus. Thus ended the time that the “heavens were closed,” which had symbolized the separation between God and man as a consequence of sin. Sin distanced us from God and broke the bond between heaven and earth, thereby determining our misery and failures in our lives. The opening of the heavens indicates that God granted his grace in order that the land bears its fruit (see Ps 85[84]: 11-12). This is how the earth became the dwelling place of God among men, and it is possible for each one of us to meet the Son of God, experiencing all of his love and infinite mercy. We are able to encounter Him truly present in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. We are able to recognize Him in the faces of our brothers and sisters, especially in the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the displaced: they are the living flesh of the suffering Christ and the visible image of the invisible God.

With the Baptism of Jesus, not only do the heavens open, but God speaks once again making his voice resound: “This is my beloved Son; with whom I am well pleased” (Mk 1:11). The Father’s voice proclaims the mystery that is hidden in the Man baptized by the Forerunner.

Then the Holy Spirit descends, in the form of a dove: this allows Christ, the Lord’s Consecrated One, to inaugurate his mission, which is our salvation. The Holy Spirit: the great One forgotten in our prayers. We often pray to Jesus: we pray to the Father, especially in the “Our Father;” but we do not often pray to the Holy Spirit, is it true? He is the Forgotten One. And we need to ask for his help, his strength, his inspiration. The Holy Spirit who has wholly animated the life and mystery of Jesus, is the same Spirit who today guides Christian existence, the existence of men and women who call themselves and want to be Christians. To subject our Christian life and mission, which we have all received in Baptism, to the action of the Holy Spirit means finding the apostolic courage necessary to overcome easy worldly accommodations. Christians and communities who are instead “deaf” to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who urges us to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth and of society, also become “mutes” who do not speak and do not evangelize.

But remember this: pray often to the Holy Spirit, that He help us, give us strength, give us inspiration and enable us to go forward.

May Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, accompany the journey of all of us baptized; may she help us to grow in our love for God and in the joy of serving the Gospel, in order to thereby give full meaning to our life.


FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
MASS AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 11 January 2015

In the First Reading we heard that the Lord takes care of his children like a parent: He takes care to provide his children with nourishing food. God says through the Prophet: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Is 55:2). God, like a good father and a good mother, wants to give good things to his children. And what is this nourishing food that God gives us? It is his Word: his Word makes us grow, it enables us to bear good fruit in life, just as the rain and snow imbue the earth, making it fruitful (see Is 55:10-11). Likewise you, parents, and you too, godmothers and godfathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, will help these children grow if you give them the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus. And give it also by your example! Every day, make it a habit to read a passage of the Gospel, a small one, and always carry a little Gospel with you in your pocket, in your purse, so you can read it. And this will set the example for your children, seeing dad, mom, their godparents, grandpa, grandma, aunts and uncles, reading the Word of God.

You, mothers, give milk to your children—even now, if they are crying with hunger, feed them, don’t worry. Let us thank the Lord for the gift of milk, and let us pray for those mothers—there are so many, unfortunately—who are unable to breast-feed their children. Let us pray and let us try to help these mothers. Thus, what milk does for the body, the Word of God does for the spirit: the Word of God makes faith grow. And thanks to faith we have been begotten by God. This is what happens at Baptism. We have heard the Apostle John: “Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God” (1 Jn 5:1). Your children are baptized in this faith. Today it is your faith, dear parents, godfathers and godmothers. It is the faith of the Church, in which these little ones receive Baptism. But tomorrow, by the grace of God, it will be their faith, their personal “yes” to Jesus Christ, which gives us the Father’s love.

I said: it is the faith of the Church. This is very important. Baptism integrates us into the body of the Church, into the holy People of God. And in this body, in this people journeying on, faith is passed down from generation to generation: it is the faith of the Church. It is the faith of Mary, our Mother, the faith of St Joseph, of St Peter, of St Andrew, of St John, the faith of the Apostles and of the Martyrs, which has come down to us, through Baptism: the chain of transmission of the faith. This is really beautiful! It is a passing of the flame of faith from hand to hand: we too will soon express it with the act of lighting candles from the great Paschal candle. The large wax candle represents the Risen Christ, living in our midst. You, families, take the light of faith from Him in order to pass it on to your children. You receive this light in the Church, in the Body of Christ, in the People of God who are journeying through every time and in every place. Teach your children that one cannot be a Christian outside of the Church, one cannot follow Jesus Christ without the Church, for the Church is Mother, who makes us grow in the love of Jesus Christ.

One last feature emerges powerfully from today’s Bible Readings: in Baptism we are consecrated by the Holy Spirit. This is what the word “Christian” means, it means consecrated like Jesus, in the same Spirit in which Jesus was immersed throughout his earthly existence. He is the “Christ,” the Anointed One, the Consecrated One; we, the baptized, are “Christian,” meaning consecrated, anointed. Therefore, dear parents, dear godfathers and godmothers, if you want your children to become true Christians, help them to grow up “immersed” in the Holy Spirit, that is to say, in the warmth of the love of God, in the light of his Word. For this reason, do not forget to invoke the Holy Spirit often, every day. “Do you pray, Ma’am?”—“Yes”—“Whom do you pray to?”—“I pray to God.” But “God” does not exist like this: God is one person, and as a Person the Father, Son and Holy Spirit exist. “Whom do you pray to?”—“The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.” We usually pray to Jesus. When we pray the “Our Father,” we pray to the Father. But we do not often pray to the Holy Spirit. It is very important to pray to the Holy Spirit, because He teaches us how to bring up the family, the children, so that these children may grow up in the atmosphere of the Holy Trinity. It is precisely the Spirit who leads them forward. For this reason, do not forget to invoke the Holy Spirit often, every day. You can do so, for example, with this simple prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” You can say this prayer for your children, as well as, naturally, for yourselves!

When you recite this prayer, you feel the maternal presence of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us to pray to the Holy Spirit, and to live in accordance with the Spirit, like Jesus. May Our Lady, our Mother, always accompany the journey of your children and of your families. So be it.


FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 10 January 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

On this Sunday after the Epiphany, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, and we gratefully recall our Baptism. In this context, this morning I baptized 26 infants: let us pray for them!

The Gospel presents Jesus, in the waters of the River Jordan, at the centre of a wondrous divine revelation. St Luke writes: “when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, ‘Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased’” (Lk 3:21-22). In this way Jesus is consecrated and manifested by the Father as the Savior Messiah and liberator.

In this event—attested by all four Gospels—is the passing from the baptism of John the Baptist, symbolized by water, to the Baptism of Jesus “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Lk 3:16). Indeed, the Holy Spirit is the principal artisan in Christian Baptism: it is he who burns and destroys original sin, restoring to the baptized the beauty of divine grace; it is he who frees us from the dominion of darkness, namely sin, and transfers us to the kingdom of light, namely love, truth and peace: this is the kingdom of light. Let us think about the dignity to which Baptism elevates us! “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are” (1 Jn 3:1), the Apostle John exclaims. This splendid reality of being Children of God entails the responsibility of following Jesus, the obedient Servant, and reproduces his lineaments in our very selves: namely docility, humility, tenderness. This is not easy, especially when there is so much intolerance, arrogance, harshness around us. But with the strength we receive from the Holy Spirit it is possible!

The Holy Spirit, received for the first time on the day of our Baptism, opens our heart to the Truth, to all Truth. The Spirit impels our life on the challenging but joyful path of charity and solidarity toward our brothers and sisters. The Spirit gives us the tenderness of divine forgiveness and permeates us with the invincible power of the Father’s mercy. Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit is a living and vivifying presence in those who welcome him, he prays in us and fills us with spiritual joy.

Today, the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, let us ponder the day of our Baptism. All of us were baptized, let us give thanks for this gift. I ask you a question: which of you knows the date of your Baptism? Surely not everyone. Therefore, I encourage you to find out the date, by asking, for example, your parents, your grandparents, your godparents, or going to the parish. It is very important to know it, because it is a date to be celebrated: it is the date of our rebirth as Children of God. For this reason, homework for this week: go and find out the date of your Baptism. Celebrating that day means and reaffirms our adherence to Jesus, with the commitment to live as Christians, members of the Church and of a new humanity, in which all are brothers and sisters.

May the Virgin Mary, first Disciple of her Son Jesus, help us to live our Baptism with joy and apostolic zeal, welcoming each day the gift of the Holy Spirit, which makes us Children of God.


FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
MASS AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 10 January 2016

Forty days after his birth, Jesus was taken to the Temple. Mary and Joseph brought him in order to present him to God. Today, on the Feast of Our Lord’s Baptism, you parents have brought your children to receive Baptism, to receive what you asked for at the beginning, when I asked you the first question: “Faith. I want faith for my child.” In this way faith is passed on from one generation to the next, as a sequence, over the course of time.

These little boys, these little girls, years from now, will take your place with another child—your grandchildren—and will ask the same: faith. The faith that Baptism gives us. The faith that the Holy Spirit brings today to the heart, to the soul, to the life of these, your children.

You have asked for faith. When the Church hands you the lit candle, she will tell you to safeguard the faith of these children. Lastly, do not forget that the greatest legacy that you can give to your children is faith. Take care that it is not lost, make it grow and leave it as a legacy.

I wish you this today, on this day that is joyful for you. I wish that you may be able to raise these children in the faith and that the greatest legacy they receive from you is truly faith.

I have only one piece of advice. A baby cries because he or she is hungry, I say to the mothers: if your child is hungry, feed him or her here, you are completely free to do so. 

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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For reflections on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 

 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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