01/11/2004, 00.00
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Pope: "Christ's Baptism is mystery of light for Church"

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At noon from his apartment window, John Paul II turned to pilgrims gathered below in St. Peter's Square. Before reciting the Angelus, he spoke about the importance of today's feast, the Baptism of Jesus, which concludes the Christmas season. The pope said that Christ's baptism was the first "Mystery of Light", the series of 5 mysteries which he himself introduced into the prayer of the Rosary with the apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, at the beginning of the 25th anniversary of his pontificate, Oct. 16 2002.

After the prayer, the pope spent a long time greeting Ukrainian pilgrims and then the rest of the faithful gathered below.

Below are the Pope's words (translation by AsiaNews):


Today we celebrate the Feast of our Lord's baptism. The gospels tell us that Jesus went to John the Baptist at the river Jordan, where he wanted to receive from him the baptism of penance. But immediately afterward, while in prayer, "the Holy Spirit came upon him and a voice from heaven said: "You are my chosen son, in you I am fulfilled." (Luke 3,21-22).                                          

It was the first public manifestation of Jesus's identity as the Messiah, after the adoration of the Magi. Therefore the liturgy places the feast of his Baptism near that of the Epiphany, skipping ahead in time by nearly 30 years. The Child, whom the magi adored as the messianic King, we see today consecrated by the Father in the Holy Spirit.  

In his baptism on the Jordan, Jesus's messianic "style" is already clearly delineated. He comes  as the "Lamb of God" to take up and remove the sins of the world (cf. John 1, 29.36), as John the Baptist points out to the disciples(cf. John 1,36). Even we, who at Christmas have celebrated the great event of the Incarnation, are invited to fix our gaze upon Jesus, the human face of God and divine face of man.

The best teacher of contemplation is the Most Holy Virgin, Mary. If she humanly had to suffer upon seeing Jesus leave Nazareth, from his manifestation she received new light and strength to make her pilgrimage of faith. Christ's baptism is the first mystery of light for Mary and for the Church. May it illuminate the journey of every Christian."
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