The pontiff turns his thoughts to the victims of 6 January in Washington. “I urge government authorities and the entire population to maintain a high sense of responsibility, in order to soothe tempers, promote national reconciliation, and protect the democratic values rooted in American society.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “Our life is marked by the mercy that was laid upon on us” on the day of our baptism, but even those who are not baptised can receive his mercy, said Pope Francis in the Angelus prayer on the day commemorating the baptism of Jesus.
However, contrary to tradition, the Pope, as he noted himself, did not baptise any children on this day because of the pandemic. For the same reason, today’s Angelus prayer was recited again from the library of the Apostolic Palace. During his address, the pontiff also spoke about the violence that broke out on 6 January in Washington.
“I send an affectionate greeting to the people of the United States of America, shaken by the recent siege of Congress. I pray for those, five, who lost their lives, lost it in those tragic moments. I reiterate that violence is always self-destructive. Nothing is gained from violence and so much is lost.”
“I urge government authorities and the entire population to maintain a high sense of responsibility, in order to soothe tempers, promote national reconciliation and protect the democratic values rooted in American society.
“May the Immaculate Virgin, Patroness of the United States of America, help keep alive the culture of encounter, the culture of care, as the way to build the common good together, and do so with all those who live in that country.”
Before the Marian prayer, the Pope said that “The Liturgy has us take a leap of some 30 years,” from Christmas to the banks of the Jordan River. These years, “Jesus spent with his family,” first in Egypt, as a fleeing migrant, then in Nazareth, “obeying his parents, studying and working.
“It is striking that the Lord spent most of his time on Earth this way: living an ordinary life, without standing out. It is a fine message for us: it reveals the greatness of daily life, the importance in the eyes of God of every gesture and moment of life, even the most simple and hidden.”
Jesus was baptised on the banks of the Jordan River even though he “surely did not need it.” Yet “On the first day of his ministry, Jesus thus offers us his ‘programmatic manifesto’. He tells us that he does not save us from on high, with a sovereign decision or act of force, but by coming to meet us and taking our sins upon himself.
“This is how God conquers worldly evil: by humbling himself and taking charge of it. It is also the way that we can lift up others: not by judging, not by suggesting what to do, but by becoming neighbours, empathising, sharing God's love. Closeness is God’s style towards us.”
“Love calls for love. It also applies to us: in each act of service, in every work of mercy we perform, God manifests himself and sets his gaze upon the world. But even before we do anything, our life was marked by mercy and it was laid upon us. We have been saved, for free; salvation is free.”
“When did this happen? On the very day of our Baptism. There, we were immersed in the love of Christ who died and rose for us. There, we received the gift of the Holy Spirit. There, the Father said to each one of us, as he did to Jesus: ‘You are my beloved Son’. For this reason, the day of Baptism should be remembered: It is a date to mark and celebrate every year.
“Since then and for ever, we are the beloved children of God. We may think the wrong things, make many mistakes, but we always remain God's beloved children. It is our deepest identity. It is the first point of a spiritual life and we are reminded of it by Jesus’ first public gesture.”
Earlier, in an interview with the Canale 5 Italian TV network, Francis also spoke of events in Washington. “I was stunned because they [the Americans] are such a disciplined people in democracy”. However, even “in the more mature places there is always something wrong”, there are people “who take a path against the community, against democracy, against the common good.”
Violence is certainly to be condemned, the Pope said again, “thus, this movement must be condemned, regardless of the people” involved. No people “can boast of not having a day, a case of violence;” therefore, it is a question of “understanding well so as not to repeat it, of learning from history.”