01/07/2024, 15.59
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Pope urges the faithful to remember the date of their baptism

At the Angelus, Pope Francis spoke of the ecclesial communities of the East who celebrated Christmas today, wishing them that “the birth of the Lord Jesus fills them with light, charity and peace.” He also urged the faithful to continue to pray for peace.” In the Sistine Chapel, the pontiff baptised 16 newborns.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his address after today’s Angelus prayer, Pope Francis noted that, “Today the ecclesial communities of the East who follow the Julian calendar are celebrating the Holy Nativity. In a spirit of joyful fraternity, I wish that the birth of the Lord Jesus fills them with light, charity and peace.”

The pontiff also renewed his appeal for peace, reiterating what he said yesterday, Solemnity of the Epiphany. “[P]lease,” he stressed, “let us continue to pray for peace: for peace in Ukraine, in Palestine, in Israel and all over the world”, inspired by the “historic gesture of fraternity” between Saint Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras who met on 5 January in Jerusalem, 60 years ago.

Francis also expressed his closeness to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, affected by floods and landslides caused by heavy rains, which have destroyed about 40,000 homes and killed hundreds of people.

Likewise, he spoke of the situation in Colombia, where many people have been kidnapped. “I invite you to join in my prayer for the unconditional liberation of all the people currently kidnapped in Colombia,” Francis said. “This act, which is a duty before God, will also promote a climate of reconciliation and peace in the country.”

Earlier, at 9:30 am, the pope led the Holy Mass in the Sistine Chapel during which he administered the first sacrament to 16 children. “On today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, I baptised some newborns,” he said. “Let us pray for them and for their families, extending these prayers to all the children who will receive holy Baptism in these days.”

During his brief, unscripted homily, Francis said that the babies are the "protagonists in this ceremony". Hence, “May they show us how to receive our faith: with innocence and with open hearts”. He also told parents and godparents to "accompany them in their growth, because this is a way of helping, so that faith grows in them."

In his commentary before the Angelus, Pope Francis focused on the Word of the day (Mk 1:7-11). Today's Gospel refers to the story of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, when John the Baptist performed the “rite of purification, which expresses the commitment to renounce sin and to convert”.

Jesus too went to the Jordan, where people “go to be baptised humbly”, to show “that He wants to be close to the sinners, to come for them, for us, for all of sinners!”

This episode “reveals to us that Jesus is the Son of God”, speaking “to us of our Baptism, which has made us in turn children of God,” Francis explained.

With the baptism, the first Sacrament, God “comes into us, purifies, heals our heart, makes us forever His children,” the pope explained. For this reason, “it is important to remember the day of our Baptism, and also to know the date.” Hence, “Let us thank the Lord for Baptism,” and “welcome God’s presence within us.”

The Holy Father invited the faithful present in St Peter's Square, on a rainy morning, to devote a special thought of gratitude to the people who made it possible; first of all, the parents, but also the community, and the godfathers and godmothers.

Lastly, Francis repeated several times that the baptism is like a “new birthday", inviting the faithful to remember this and celebrate it.

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