.- Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, spoke about the Sacrament of Baptism. Stressing that Jesus’ baptism was Jesus’ first act of public life, he said that if Christians could fully understand the gift of Baptism, our lives would be ones of constant thanks.
At Holy Mass before the Angelus, the pontiff had administered Baptism to a group of children in the Sistine Chapel.
After the conclusion of Mass, he addressed a large crowd in St. Peter’s Square, noting how Jesus' Baptism is narrated in all four Gospels.
“The evangelist Mark writes: On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased,’” the Holy Father remarked.
“In these words: ‘You are my beloved Son,’ is revealed eternal life: the filial relationship with God, as Jesus lived and revealed and gave.
“Dear friends,” he continued, “how great is the gift of Baptism! If we could understand this fully, our life would become a constant 'thank you'.
"What a joy for Christian parents, who have seen a new creature emerge from their love, to bring this to the baptismal font and see it born again from the womb of the Church, into a life that will have no end!”
He added: “This is a gift, a joy, but also a responsibility! Parents, in fact, together with godparents, must educate children according to the Gospel."
Benedict XVI then spoke about the Sixth World Meeting of Families that will be held in Mexico City from January 16-18. This year, the meeting’s theme is "The family, educator of human and Christian values."
Organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family, Pope Benedict explained, the world meeting of families will have three sections: “the first, the theological-pastoral congress, at which the theme will be developed, partly through the sharing of significant experiences; then there will be the moment of celebration and testimony, which will demonstrate the beauty of the coming together of families from every part of the world, united by the same faith and the same commitment; and finally, the solemn Eucharistic celebration, as an act of thanksgiving to the Lord for the gifts of matrimony, the family, and life."
While Pope Benedict has chosen Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, as his legate, the pontiff has said that he wishes to participate by videoconference.
The Holy Father concluded: “Starting now, dear friends, I ask you to implore for this important world meeting of families the abundance of divine grace. Let us do this by invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of the family."
After the Angelus, the Pope directed these words towards the English-speaking pilgrims:
“To all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, I extend affectionate greetings. On this feast of the Lord’s Baptism, Jesus descends into the waters of the Jordan, taking on himself the weight of our sins. When he rises from the water, the Spirit comes down upon him and the Father’s voice declares: ‘This is my beloved Son.’
“Let us rejoice that the Son of God came to share our human condition, so that we might rise with him to everlasting life. Upon all who are here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.”