VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before leading the midday Angelus for pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square. He gave it in Italian.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
This year also, I have had the joy of baptizing some children on today´s feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The Gospels place this event at the beginning of Jesus´ public life. Indeed, it is the first manifestation of Jesus as Son of God, sent by the Father to take upon himself and remove the sin of the world (see John 1:29). As soon as he was baptized in the River Jordan, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove, while a mysterious proclamation resounded from on high: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
The Lord thus manifested himself as “the Christ,” consecrated by God in the Holy Spirit, and sent by him to proclaim to the poor the joyful message of salvation (see Isaiah 61:1-2). The purpose of his mission is to baptize men with the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 3:11; John 1:33), namely, to communicate the “fire” of divine life to them (see Luke 12:49-50). It is what will be fully realized with his death and resurrection, a mystery in which, precisely, those who have received the sacrament of baptism are made participants.
2. An important meeting of preparation is being held in Toronto these days for the 17th World Youth Day, which will take place in that city this coming month of July. I wish to send cordial greetings to the delegates of the episcopal conferences, associations, and ecclesial movements from all corners of the earth that are taking part in the meeting. I thank the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Canadian Committee for their pastoral and organizational work, and I hope that the world youth event in Canada will renew the magnificent experience of Rome 2000.
Because of this, my thoughts turn particularly to you, dear young people, already ideally “on the way” toward Toronto, through the formative and missionary endeavors of the communities to which you belong. I am eager to meet with you again in great numbers. Put aside every fear and uncertainty: Remember that you must be the “sentinels of the morning,” always ready to proclaim the advent of the new day, which is the risen Christ.
3. I entrust to Mary the preparation and development of the next World Youth Day. I also invoke her maternal protection for the children I baptized this morning, so that together with their parents, godfathers and godmothers they will grow as faithful disciples of the Lord. As the liturgical time of Christmas and the Epiphany comes to an end, may Our Lady help us all to continue on our way in that light of truth and love that Christ brought to humanity with his birth at Bethlehem.
[Translation by ZENIT]