.- Celebrating the Baptism of the Lord on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI baptized 13 newborn babies from various countries and remarked at the tremendous gift of life of which a newborn child reminds mankind.
"Each child born," said the Holy Father in his homily, "brings to us the smile of God and invites us to recognize that life is His gift, a gift that must be accepted with love and protected with care, always and at all times."
"Each child born is entrusted by God to its parents. How important, then, is the family founded upon marriage! The cradle of life and of love."
After highlighting the fact that "Baptism is adoption and assumption into the family of God, in communion with the Holy Trinity," the Pope affirmed that newborns, "from being children of human parents, become also children of God in the living Son of God."
"In Baptism we are adopted by the heavenly Father," said Pope Benedict, "but in His family there is also a mother, the Mother Church."
"Christianity is not just a spiritual reality, an individual reality, a simple subjective decision that I take, but something real, something concrete, perhaps even something material. The family of God is built within the concrete reality of the Church."
The Holy Father called upon the parents and godparents of the children just baptized to teach them "to pray and to feel themselves to be active members of the real family of God, of the ecclesial community."
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of that Catechism, ... could prove an extremely useful and exact tool to help you to grow in your own knowledge of Catholic faith, and to transmit it fully and faithfully to your offspring. Above all, do not forget that it is your testimony, your example, that has the greatest influence on the human and spiritual growth of ... your children."
Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square after the Mass, the Holy Father pointed out the close relation between the Baptism of Jesus and the Baptism of each Christian.
"Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which closes the period of Christmas," he said, pointing out that the Baptism is mentioned, in different ways, in all the Gospels. "It was, in fact, part of the Apostles' preaching, because it constituted the starting point of the entire arc of deeds and words to which they were called to bear witness."
Jesus' Baptism was extremely important for the apostolic community, "not only because then, and for the first time in history, the mystery of the Trinity was made manifest clearly and completely, but also because with that event Jesus' public ministry began. ... The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan anticipates His Baptism of blood on the Cross and symbolizes the entire sacramental activity with which the Redeemer would achieve the salvation of humanity."
The Holy Father recalled that "this Feast is, after Easter, the oldest," and indicated how "there is a close correlation between the Baptism of Christ and our own Baptism. In the Jordan, heaven opened to show that the Savior has opened the way of salvation, and we can follow it thanks to the new birth 'of water and the Spirit' that comes about in Baptism. In Baptism we are inserted into mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, we die and are born again in Him, we cloth ourselves in Him. ... The duty that arises from Baptism is, then, that of 'listening' to Jesus, believing in Him and following Him obediently, doing His will."