01/07/2007, 00.00
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Pope: Jesus’ Baptism and our call to holiness

Benedict XVI explained the meaning of this feast, one of the most ancient of the Church and invited all those who are baptized to “listen to Jesus and follow him” to “lean towards holiness”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Today’s Angelus was the last of the liturgical period of Christmas that came to a close today with the feast of the baptism of Jesus. The pope dedicated the reflection before the Marian prayer to this feast – one of the most ancient of the Church, together with Easter.

 

Shortly beforehand, Benedict XVI had celebrated the baptism of 13 children in the Sistine chapel. When the time for delivering greetings came, he invited all “to pray for these new Christians and for their parents, for their godfathers and godmothers. May the Virgin Mary always watch over them.”

 

The pontiff first explained the meaning of the mystery of the baptism of Jesus, an event that all the evangelists tackle. In fact it “formed part of apostolic preaching, since it constituted the starting point of the whole range of facts and words to which the Apostles had to bear witness (cfr At 1:21-22; 10:37-41). The apostolic community held it to be very important, not only because in that circumstance, for the first time in history, there was the manifestation of the Trinitarian mystery in a clear and complete manner, but also because on that event the public ministry of Jesus started on the streets of Palestine. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan is an anticipation of his baptism of blood on the Cross and is also a symbol of the entire sacramental activity with which the Redeemer will realize the salvation of mankind. This is why patristic tradition has devoted much interest to this feast, which is the most ancient after Easter. ‘In the Baptism of Christ – chants today’s liturgy – the world is sanctified, sins are forgiven; in water and in Spirit we become new creatures’ (Benedictus Antiphon, office of Lauds).”

 

The pope then underlined the link between the “baptism of Jesus and our baptism”. Benedict XVI Said: “In the Jordan the heavens opened (cfr Lk 3:21) to indicate that the Saviour had opened for us the way to salvation and we can walk down it precisely thanks to the new birth ‘of water and Spirit’ (Jn 3:5) that comes about in Baptism. In this, we are inserted in the mystical Body of Christ that is the Church, we die and resurrect with Him, we are covered by Him”. A responsibility and a commitment are born of this union with Christ: “ ‘listening’ to Jesus, that is, believing in Him and following him in docile manner and doing his will. It is in this way that each of us can tend towards holiness, an aim that, as the Second Vatican Council recalled, constitutes the vocation of all who are baptized.”

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