Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pope's Angelus message on the Feast of Our Lord's Baptism

Here is the Holy Father's Angelus message for the feast of our Lord's Baptism:

Today's feast of the Baptism of Jesus closes the liturgical season of Christmas. We now meet the Baby, whom the Magi from the East came to adore in Bethlehem, offering him their symbolic gifts, as an adult, at the time when he came to be baptized on the river Jordan by the great prophet John (cfr Mt 3,13).

The Gospel notes that when Jesus, having received baptism, emerged from the water, the heavens opened and the Holy spirit descended on him like a dove (cfr Mt 3,16). A voice from heaven was heard then, saying: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Mt 3,17).

That was Jesus's first public manifestation, after 30 years of a hidden life in Nazareth. Besides the Baptist, eyewitnesses of this singular event were John's disciples, some of whom later became followers of Christ (cfr Jn 1,35-40).

The event was simultaneously a Christophany and a theophany: First of all, Jesus manifested himself as the Christ, the Greek term for the Jewish Messiah, which means 'the anointed'. He was not anointed with oil in the manner of the kings and high priests of Israel, but with the Holy Spirit.

At the same time, together with the Son of God, there appeared the signs of the heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit.

What is the significance of this act, which Jesus wanted to fulfill - over the objection of the Baptist - to obey the will of God (cfr Mt 3, 14-15)? The profound meaning of it would emerge only at the end of Christ's earthly existence, in His death and resurrection.

By having himself baptized by John together with sinners, Jesus started to take upon himself the weight of all mankind's sins, as the Lamb of God who 'takes away' the sins of the world (cfr Jn 1,29). A task which he brought to fulfillment on the Cross, when he received another Baptism (cfr Lk 12,50).

In dying, he 'immersed' himself in the love of God and effused the Holy Spirit so that believers in him could be reborn from that inexhaustible spring of new and eternal life.

All of Christ's mission is summed up in this: to baptize us in the Holy Spirit to free us from slavery to death and 'open the heavens to us', that is, access to true and full living, which shall be "a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy" (Spe salvi, 12).

This is what happened, too, for the 13 babies to whom I administered the sacrament of Baptism this morning in the Sistine Chapel. For them and for their families, let us invoke the maternal protection of the Most Blessed Mary. and let us pray for all Christians, so that they may understand ever more the gift of Baptism and commit themselves to living it with consistency, bearing witness to the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

From Papa Ratzi Forum
Image from
Catholic Culture
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