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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Angelus for the Baptism of the Lord

At the conclusion of the Mass, during which he administered the Sacrament of Baptism to a group of children in the Sistine Chapel, at noon today (Rome time), the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims who were gathered in Saint Peter's Square.


Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  The Gospel (Mt 3:13-17) presents us with the scene that took place near the Jordan River: in the midst of a crowd of penitents who were approaching John the Baptist in order to receive baptism, there was also Jesus.  He was standing in line.  John wanted to stop him, saying: I am the one who needs to be baptized by you (Mt 3:14).  The Baptist is aware of the fact that there is a great distance between him and Jesus.  But Jesus came precisely to narrow the gap between man and God: if he is entirely God, he is also entirely human; he unites that which was previously divided.  This is the reason why he asked Jesus to baptize him, because this act would fulfill all righteousness (Mt 3:15), that is to say to fulfill the plan of God which happens through a life of obedience and solidarity with fragile and sinful mankind, the way of humility and the closeness of God to his children.  God is so close to us, so very close!

After having been baptized by John, at the moment when Jesus came out of the waters of the Jordan river, the voice of God the Father was heard from on high: This is my Son, the beloved: with him I am well pleased (Mt 3:17). And at the same time, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, rests on Jesus, who thus begins his public mission of salvation; a mission characterized by a certain style, a style of a meek and humble servant, armed only with the strength of truth, as Isaiah had foretold: One who does not cry out or raise his voice ... one who does not break the crushed reed or quench the wick that is dimly burning; he will proclaim the right to all truth (Is 42:2-3).  A humble and meek servant.

This is Jesus' way; it is also the missionary way of Christ's disciples: to proclaim the gospel with gentleness and firmness, without crying out, without scolding anyone, but with gentleness and firmness, without arrogance or imposing.  The true mission is never one of proselytism but rather of attraction to Christ.  How is this done?  How does such attraction to Christ come about?  With true witness, beginning with firm union with Him in prayer, adoration and concrete charity, which is service to Jesus who is present in those who are the smallest of our brothers and sisters.  Imitating Jesus, the good and merciful shepherd, and enlivened by his grace, we are called to make our lives examples of joyful witnessing that enlighten the way, bringing hope and love.

This feast allows us to rediscover the gift and the beauty of being a people of the baptized, sinners - we all are - sinners who have been saved by the grace of Christ, truly included, through the work of the Holy Spirit, in the filial relationship between Jesus and the Father, welcomed in the womb of mother Church, capable of a fraternity that knows no limits or barriers.

May the Virgin Mary help us Christians to maintain a living and grateful awareness of our Baptism and to continue faithfully along the path that was begun by this Sacrament of our rebirth, always in humility, meekness and with conviction.



Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters!

In the context of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, this morning, I baptized a group of newborns: twenty-eight of them.  Let us pray for them and for their families.  Also, yesterday afternoon, I baptized a young catechumen.  And I wish to extend my prayer to all parents who at this time are preparing for the Baptism of their children, and to those who have recently celebrated Baptism.  I invoke the Holy Spirit upon them and their children, so that this Sacrament, so simple and at the same time so important, may be lived with faith and joy.

I also want to invite you to unite your efforts with those of the Pope's Worldwide Network of Prayer, through social networks and the prayer intentions that are published every month throughout the Church.  In this way, we can continue the apostolate of prayer and help communion among us to grow.

During these days, which are so cold, I think of and I invite you to be aware of people who live in the streets, affected by the cold and often by indifference.  Unfortunately, some do not survive.  Let us pray for them and ask the Lord to warm their hearts and to help them.

I greet all of you, faithful from Rome as well as pilgrims from Italy and from other countries, especially the group of young people from Cagliari, who I encourage to continue the journey that was begun with the Sacrament of Confirmation.  And I thank them, because they offer me a chance to point out that Confirmation is not only a point of arrival - as some people say, the sacrament of good bye, no, no! - it is first and foremost a point of departure in the Christian way.  Continue, joyfully live the Gospel!

I wish you all a good Sunday.  Please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!
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