On this Sunday after the Epiphany, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, and we thankfully remember our Baptism. In this context, this morning, I baptized 26 newborns: let’s pray for them!
The Gospel presents Jesus in the waters of the Jordan River, in the midst of a marvelous, divine revelation. St. Luke writes: “After all the people had been baptized and 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 manifested by the Father as Messiah, Savior, and liberator.
In this event – attested to by all four Gospels – the transition from the baptism of John the Baptist, based on the symbol of water, to the baptism of Jesus happens “in the Holy Spirit and fire” (Lk 3:16). The Holy Spirit, in fact, in the Christian Baptism is the principal architect: it is He who burns and destroys Original Sin, restoring to the baptized the beauty of divine grace; It is He who delivers us from the dominion of darkness, that is to say, of sin, and transfers us into the realm of light, that to say of love, truth and peace: this is the realm of light. Think of to what dignity Baptism elevates us! “See what love the Father has given us, that we 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 of following Jesus, the obedient Servant, and reproduce in ourselves His features: that 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 pushes our life down a demanding path, but one joyous in charity and solidarity toward 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 presence and is life-giving in those who welcome Him, and prays in us and fills us with spiritual joy.
Today, the feast of the Baptism of Jesus, we think of the day of our Baptism. All of us were baptized, thank you for this gift. And I make you a question: Which of you knows the date of your baptism? Certainly, not all of you. Therefore, I invite you to go and search for the date, asking, for example, your parents, your grandparents, your godparents, or going into the parish. It is very important to know, because it is a date to celebrate: it is the date of our rebirth as children of God. For this, homework for this week: go look for the date of my baptism. Celebrating that day means and reaffirms our attachment to Jesus, with the commitment to live as Christians, members of the Church and new humanity, in which all are brothers.
The Virgin Mary, the first disciple of her Son, Jesus, helps us to live our Baptism with joy and apostolic zeal, receiving, every day, the gift of the Holy Spirit, Who makes us children of God.
After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet all of you, the faithful of Rome and pilgrims who have come from Italy and other countries.
I greet, in particular, the students of Bachiller Diego Sánchez de Talavera La Real, Spain; the choir of the Alpini of Martinengo with their family members; and the group of teenagers from San Bernardo in Lodi.
As I said, on this feast of the Baptism of Jesus, following 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 sacraments of Christian initiation, or who are preparing for them. May Christ’s grace always accompany them!
And I wish you all a good Sunday. Do not forget your homework: Search for the date of my baptism. And please, do not forget also to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!