Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Baptism is received only once, but it must be witnessed every day, because it is new life to share and light to communicate, especially to those living in conditions unworthy of man and walking on dark paths". On the day when the Church celebrates the Baptism of Our Lord, Pope Francis, who this morning has baptized 26 children, again spoke of the meaning and responsibilities related to the first sacrament ahead of the Angelus prayer.
Speaking to 20 thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the recitation of the Marian prayer, the Pope said that "in this feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, according to tradition I baptized several children. Now I would like to convey a special blessing to all children who have been baptized recently, but also young people and adults who have just received the sacraments of Christian initiation, or who are preparing them. May the grace of Christ always be with you!".
Before the recitation of the prayer, the Pope recalled that today "the Gospel presents Jesus in the waters of the Jordan River, in the middle of a wonderful divine revelation. St Luke writes: " Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased'"(Lk 3,21-22). In this way Jesus is consecrated and manifest by the Father as the Messiah liberator and savior. In this event - witnessed by all four Gospels – we see the transition from the baptism of John the Baptist, based on the symbol of water, to the baptism of Jesus in the Holy Spirit and with fire "(Lk 3:16)."
"The Holy Spirit is the principal architect in Christian Baptism, He is the one that burns and destroys original sin, restoring the beauty of divine grace. He is the One who delivers us from the dominion of darkness, that is, of sin, and transports us into the realm of light, that is love, truth and peace. This is the light. Think of what dignity Baptism lifts us to! "See what love the Father has given us that should be called children of God, and so we are!" (1 Jn 3,1), says the Apostle John. This stupendous reality of being children of God involves a responsibility to follow Jesus, the obedient Servant, and reproduce in ourselves his features, those of meekness, humility, tenderness. And this is not easy, especially when all around us there is so much intolerance, arrogance, harshness. But with the strength that comes from the Holy Spirit it is possible! "
"The Holy Spirit, received for the first time on the day of our Baptism, opens our hearts to the truth, the whole truth. The Spirit leads our life on the difficult but joyful path of charity and solidarity with our brothers. The Spirit gives us the tenderness of God's forgiveness and pervades us with the invincible power of the Father's mercy. Do not forget that the Holy Spirit is a living and life-giving presence for those who accept Him, and prays in us and fills us with spiritual joy ".
"Today, on the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, we think of the day of our Baptism; we have all been baptized, and give thanks for this gift. And so let me ask a question of you: Do you know the date of your baptism? Not everybody".
Once again the Pope called on people to look up the date of their baptism, asking their parents, or in the parish. This is my homework for you, he added, find out the date of your baptism. "It is a date to celebrate to reaffirm our adherence to Jesus, with the commitment to live as Christians, members of the Church and of a new humanity, in which all are brothers. Baptism is received only once, but it must be witnessed every day, because it is new life to share and light to communicate, especially to those living in conditions unworthy of man and walking on paths of darkness. May the Virgin Mary, the first disciple of her Son Jesus, help us to live our baptism with joy and apostolic zeal, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, who makes us children of God every day. "