Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Faith "is the most beautiful inheritance" that parents can leave their children and this makes the transmission of the faith a "duty" because if "every child that is born is a gift of joy and hope," every "child that is baptised is a miracle of faith and a celebration for the family of God."
On the day in which the Gospel marks Jesus' baptism, Pope Francis, who baptised 32 children this morning saying "I like to baptise children, I like it so much," stressed the fact that with the birth and baptism of Jesus, "the heavens opened up for him."
"If the heavens are closed," the Holy Father said before the Angelus, "our horizon in this earthly life is dark, hopeless. Instead, by celebrating Christmas, faith once again gives us the certainty that the heavens were pierced with the coming of Jesus. On the day of Christ's baptism, we still contemplate the open heavens. The manifestation of the Son of God on the earth marks the beginning of the great time of mercy, after sin closed the heavens, raising a barrier between human beings and their Creator. With the birth of Jesus, the heavens opened up! In Christ, God gave us the guaranty of indestructible love. Since the Word was made flesh, it is possible to see the open heavens."
"Jesus," the pope said during the Mass celebrated in the Sistine Chapel, "did not need to be baptized, but the first theologians say that, with His body, with His divinity, in the Baptism He blessed all the waters, so that water would have the power to give baptism. And then, before ascending to Heaven, Jesus told us to go into all the world to baptize. And from that day until the present day, this has been an unbroken chain: they baptized their children, and their children [baptized] their children, and their children [and so on] . . . And even today this chain continues.
"You parents have the baby boy or girl to be baptized, but in a few years it will be they who will have a baby to be baptized, or a grandchild... And so goes the chain of faith! What does this mean? I would just tell you this: you are the ones that transmit the faith, the transmitters, you have a duty to pass on the faith to these children. It 's the most beautiful legacy that you leave to them: the faith! Only this. Today, take this thought home with you. We must be transmitters of the faith. Think about this, always think of how to transmit the faith to the children.
"Today the choir is singing; but the most beautiful choir that of the children, who are making noise . . . Some cry because they are not comfortable, or because they are hungry: if they are hungry, moms, give them something to eat, calmly, because they are the central figures, the protagonists [of this celebration]. And now, with this awareness of being transmitters of the faith, let us continue the ceremony of Baptism.
"When," Francis said during the Angelus, "Jesus received the baptism of repentance from John the Baptist, in solidarity with the penitent people - He who is without sin, and in no need of conversion - God the Father made his voice heard from heaven: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Mt, 3:17). Jesus received the approval of the heavenly Father who sent him so that he can accept to share our condition, and our poverty. Sharing is the true way of love. Jesus does not dissociate himself from us; he consider us his brothers and shares with us. Thus, he makes us the children, together with Him, of God the Father. This is the revelation and the source of true love. And this is the great time of mercy.
"Don't you think that in our time we need a supplement of brotherly sharing and love? Don't you think we all need a supplement of charity? Not the one that settles for improvised aid and does not engage and challenge, but the charity that shares, that takes care of the distress and suffering of one's brother. How does life taste when we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by God's love? Let us ask the Holy Virgin to sustain us through her intercession in our commitment to follow Christ on the path of faith and charity, the path traced by our baptism."
After the Angelus, "I would like to dedicate a special thought to the parents who are preparing the baptism of their children. I share the joy of these families, and thank the Lord with them. I pray that children's baptism will help the parents rediscover the beauty of faith and return again to the sacraments and the community."