Pope Francis challenges us again11 Jan 2016, by Sacraments in
In the traditional Angelus audience, Pope Francis appeared before the world yesterday in St. Peter’s Square to challenge us once again. Yesterday the whole Church celebrated the feast of the Lord’s baptism, and before the Angelus, the Pope reminded every Catholic and in fact every Christian of something very important yet forgotten so easily. Indeed, the world has become so worldly to the extent that we only celebrate the day we were born into it and hardly celebrate the day we were born into the body of Christ, the Church. St. Augustine proudly told his own story of how his mother gave birth to him twice, physical and spiritual, into the world and into the body of Christ through baptism.
In his address before the Angelus, the Pope asked if we remember the day we were baptized. In other words, do we celebrate it the way we celebrate the day we were born into the world? This is a big reminder and a big challenge to our faith in the baptismal consecration. Remember the date; celebrate it for it is worth celebrating.
Please read the full text of the Pope’s message below; it was delivered in Italian but translated by Deborah Castellano Loboy. (Courtesy of Zenit)
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
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.