Pope Francis on January 7, 2018, urged Christians to remember their baptism, during his remarks before the Angelus with the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He also reminded listeners that the Holy Spirit gave Jesus the strength to carry out his mission in the world.
“Today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord ends the Christmas season and invites us to think of our Baptism,” the Pope said. “Jesus willed to receive the baptism preached and administered by John the Baptist in the river Jordan…a baptism of penance.”
This demonstrated the “great humility of Jesus,” the Holy Father pointed out, because Jesus had not sinned, but “put himself in the queue with the penitents, mixing among them, to be baptized in the waters of the river.”
Pope Francis continued by noting “ Jesus’ willingness to immerse Himself in the river of humanity, to take upon himself the failures and weaknesses of men, to share their desire of liberation and to overcome all that distances one from God and renders brothers strangers.” And Francis said reminded the crowd that when Jesus emerged from the water, the heaven’s opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him, giving him the strength for his earthly mission.
The Pope concluded by encouraged every Christian to remember the date of his own baptism. He said it is a date of celebration and “the date of the great forgiveness.”
* * *
Before the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord ends the Christmas season and invites us to think of our Baptism. Jesus willed to receive the baptism preached and administered by John the Baptist in the river Jordan. It was a baptism of penance: all those who approached it expressed the desire to be purified from sin and, with God’s help, committed themselves to begin a new life.
We understand then the great humility of Jesus, He who had not sinned, put himself in the queue with the penitents, mixing among them, to be baptized in the waters of the river. What humility Jesus has! And, by doing so, He manifested what we celebrated at Christmas: Jesus’ willingness to immerse Himself in the river of humanity, to take upon himself the failures and weaknesses of men, to share their desire of liberation and to overcome all that distances one from God and renders brothers strangers. As at Bethlehem, along the banks of the Jordan God keeps His promise to take charge of the human being’s fate, and Jesus is the tangible and definitive sign of it. He took charge of all of us, He takes charge of all of us, in life, in the days.
Today’s Gospel stresses that Jesus “when He came up out of the water, immediately He saw the Heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove” (Mark 1:10). The Holy Spirit, who had worked from the beginning of Creation and had guided Moses and the people in the desert, now descends in fullness upon Jesus to give Him the strength to carry out His mission in the world. The Spirit is the artifice of Jesus’ Baptism and also of our Baptism. It’s the Spirit that opens the eyes of our heart to truth, to the whole truth. He pushes our life on the path of charity. He is the gift that the Father gave to each one of us on the day of our Baptism. He, the Spirit, transmits to us the tenderness of divine forgiveness. And it is also He, the Holy Spirit, that makes the revealing Word of God resound: “Thou art my beloved Son” (v. 11
The feast of Jesus’ Baptism invites every Christian to remember his own Baptism. I can’t ask you the question if you remember the day of your Baptism, because the majority of you were babies, like me; we were baptized as babies. However, I can ask you another question? Do you know the date<on which> you were baptized? Do you know what day you were baptized? Each one of you think about it. And if you don’t know the date or have forgotten it, when you go home ask your mother, your grandmother, your uncle, your aunt, your grandfather, your godfather, your godmother: what <was> date? And we must always have that date in our memory, because it’s a date of celebration, it’s the date of our initial sanctification; it’s the date in which the Father gave us the Holy Spirit who pushes us to walk; it’s the date of the great forgiveness. Don’t forget: what’s the date of my Baptism?
We invoke the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy so that all Christians can understand increasingly the gift of Baptism and commit themselves to live it with coherence, witnessing the love of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]