01/08/2006, 00.00
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Pope urges rediscovery of joy in being "new men" created by baptism

On the day commemorating Jesus' Baptism, Benedict XVI called on 60,000 people in St Peter's Square for the Angelus to "testify to it with worthy life conduct."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Rediscovering the joy of being "new men, in holiness of thought and action", which we became in baptism.  Today's recollection of Jesus' baptism and the just completed administration of the sacrament in the Sistine Chapel gave Benedict XVI the cue for his words to around 60,000 people gathered in St Peter's Square for the recital of the Angelus.

The Pope recalled that on this Sunday after the Epiphany, "we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which ends the liturgical time of Christmas" in the memory of Jesus' baptism. He said: "This was a baptism of repentance, which used the symbol of water to express the purification of the heart and of life. John, called 'the Baptist', that is, 'the Baptizer', preached this baptism for Israel to prepare for the imminent coming of the Messiah; and he told all that after him would come another, greater than him, and he could baptize not with water but with the Holy Spirit (cfr Mk 1:7-8). And lo, when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit came down and rested on Him in the bodily form of a dove, and John the Baptist recognized that He was the Christ, the 'Lamb of God', who comes to take away the sins of the world (cfr Jn 1:29). Therefore the Baptism in the Jordan is also an 'epiphany', a manifestation of the Messianic identity of the Lord and his redeeming work, which would culminate in another 'baptism', that of his death and resurrection, through which the whole world would be purified with the fire of divine mercy (cfr Lk 12: 49-50)".

The Pope then talked about the celebration of the children's baptism, which "John Paul II used to administer". He said: "For this first time, this morning, I too had the joy of baptizing 10 newborn children in the Sistine Chapel. The Baptism of children expresses and realizes the mystery of the new birth in divine life in Christ: parents who are believers take their children to the baptismal font, which represents the 'womb' of the Church; the children of God are generated from its blessed waters. The gift received by the newborns begs to be received by them, once they become adults, in a free and responsible manner: this process of maturation will lead them to receive the sacrament of Confirmation, which, precisely, confirms Baptism and confers on each one the 'seal' of the Holy Spirit". The memory of baptism, in the words of Benedict XVI, "is an appropriate occasion for all Christians to rediscover with joy the beauty of their Baptism, which, if lived with faith, is an ever present reality: it renews us continually in the image of the new man, in holiness of thought and action. Baptism, besides, unites Christians of all denominations. In as much as they are baptized, all are children of God in Jesus Christ, our Teacher and Lord. May the Virgin Mary obtain for us the ever deeper understanding of the value of our Baptism and to testify to it with worthy life conduct."

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