Vatican City (AsiaNews) - In the sumptuous surroundings of the Sistine Chapel, Benedict XVI today baptised 13 children, giving them "the mystery of divine life . . . the rebirth of water and of the Holy Spirit". The 13 little ones are all children of Vatican employees, and were accompanied by their parents, godparents, and relatives: thanks to them, the Sistine Chapel, the place where the papal election takes place, was transformed into a humble domestic church, a little parish.
In the homily, the pope recalled that baptism is an interweaving of the mystery "of human life" and "the mystery of divine life". Physical death and sin threaten this life. "Everything that has its beginning on the earth comes to an end sooner or later . . . While in the other creatures, which are not called to eternity, death means only the end of earthly existence, sin creates in us an abyss that threatens to devour us forever, if the Father who is in heaven does not stretch out his hand to us".
The mystery of baptism is precisely this: "God wanted to save us by plunging to the bottom of the abyss of death himself, so that every man, even the one who has fallen so low that he can no longer see the sky, may find and take hold of the hand of God, rising up from the shadows to see once again the light for which he was made. We all feel, we all perceive within ourselves that our existence is a desire for life that cries out for a fullness, a salvation. This fullness of life is given to us in Baptism".
Recalling the liturgy of the day, that of the Baptism of Jesus, the pope explained that with the "baptism of conversion" that he received in the Jordan river, "mixed in among the repentant sinners", "the Son of God, who from all eternity shares in the fullness of life together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, was 'immersed' in our reality as sinners, in order to make us share in his own life". "This is why", Benedict XVI added, "Christian parents, like you are doing today, bring their children to the baptismal font as soon as possible, knowing that the life that they have given to them calls out for a fullness, a salvation that only God can give. And in this way, the parents become co-workers with God in transmitting to their children not only physical life, but also spiritual life".
The pope reminded the parents of their responsibility: "in order to grow up healthy and strong, these children need physical care and great attention; but what will be more necessary for them, and even indispensable, is that they know, love, and serve God faithfully, that they may have eternal life. Dear parents, be for them the first witnesses of authentic faith in God!"
The pontiff then referred to the candle that one of the parents lights from the Easter candle at the end of the baptismal ceremony, and concluded: "Foster always, dear brothers and sisters, the flame of faith, by listening to and meditating on the Word of God, and through frequent communion with the Eucharistic Jesus. May you be helped in this stupendous, though not easy, mission by the patron saints whose names these thirteen children will take. May these saints help above all them, the children about to be baptised, to respond to your care as Christian parents. May the Virgin Mary in particular accompany them and you, dear parents, now and forever. Amen!"