.- Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Sunday morning by offering Mass in the Sistine Chapel where he would also baptize a group of children. Later, in his address before the Angelus, the Pope would elaborate on the meaning of Baptism for the realization of life.
The Holy Father, referring to the Baptismal celebration in the Sistine Chapel that marked the end of the Christmas liturgy, said that Baptism "suggests very well the global sense of the Christmas festivities, in which the theme of becoming children of God, thanks to the coming of the only Son in our humanity, constitutes a dominant element."
"He was made man so that we can become children of God. He was born so that we can be reborn."
These concepts are a "great motive of reflection and hope," added Benedict XVI, as they come up repeatedly in the liturgical texts of Christmas. Rebirth, he said, is thus realized in the sacramental sign of Baptism, as it manifests the mystery of making men the adopted children of God.
"Through this sacrament man becomes truly son, son of God."
From the point of Baptism onward, continued the Pope, the life of the Baptized becomes one of "achieving freely and knowingly that which from the beginning (was) received as gift."
In this light, he elaborated, the phrase "become what you areâ represents âthe basic educative principal of the human person redeemed by grace."
To illustrate this achievement, the Pontiff compared Christian growth to human growth to adulthood. Just as a person grows from complete dependence to maturity, he said, he or she does the same in their faith from Baptism to the realization of being able to "invoke God knowingly as 'Abba - Father' to turn to Him with gratitude and to live the joy of being his child."
In Baptism, continued the Holy Father, "a model of society" in brotherhood is also derived, and this sense of brotherhood comes from the "humble but profound knowledge of being children of the only heavenly Father."
"As Christians, thanks to the Holy Spirit received at Baptism, we have a kind of gift and commitment to living as children of God and brothers, to be like "yeast" of a new humanity, united and rich in peace and hope."
Pope Benedict XVI concluded by saying that to achieve this maturity, in addition to the Father in Heaven, we are helped along the way by "a mother, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the perennial model." He then entrusted the newly baptized children and their families to Mary.