On Baptism

«We Are All Children of God in Christ Jesus»

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 8, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before reciting the midday Angelus from the window of his study with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On this Sunday following the solemnity of the Epiphany, we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which ends the liturgical time of Christmas. Today we contemplate Jesus who, at the age of about 30, had John baptize him in the Jordan River. It was a baptism of penance, which used the symbol of water to express the purification of heart and life.

John, called the «Baptist,» that is, he who baptizes, preached this baptism to Israel to prepare for the imminent coming of the Messiah; and he told all that after him another would come, greater than he, who would not baptize with water but with the Holy Spirit (cf. Mark 1:7-8). When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended, rested on him with the corporal appearance of a dove, and John the Baptist recognized that he was the Christ, the «Lamb of God,» who came to take away the sins of the world (cf. John 1:29).

Therefore, the baptism in the Jordan is also an «epiphany,» a manifestation of the messianic identity of the Lord and of his redeeming work, which will culminate with another «baptism,» that of his death and resurrection, through which the whole world will be purified in the fire of divine mercy (cf. Luke 12:49-50).

On this feast, Pope John Paul II usually administered the sacrament of baptism to some children. For the first time, this morning, I also had the joy of baptizing 10 newborns in the Sistine Chapel. I renew with affection my greeting to these little ones, to their families, as well as to the godfathers and godmothers.

The baptism of children expresses and realizes the mystery of the new birth to divine life in Christ: Believing parents take their children to the baptismal font, representation of the «womb» of the Church, from whose blessed waters the children of God are begotten. The gift received by the newborns calls for its being accepted by them, once they become adults, in a free and responsible way: This process of maturation will lead them later to receive the sacrament of confirmation, which in fact will confirm their baptism and will confer on them the «seal» of the Holy Spirit.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, may today’s solemnity be a propitious opportunity for all Christians to discover the joy and beauty of their baptism that, lived with faith, is an ever present reality: It continually renews us in the image of the new man, in holiness of thoughts and deeds. Baptism, moreover, unites Christians of all creeds. Insofar as baptized, we are all children of God in Christ Jesus, our master and Lord. May the virgin Mary obtain for us the grace to understand ever more the value of our baptism and to witness to it with a worthy conduct of life.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus. Today’s celebration of the baptism of our Lord is a joyful reminder of the gift of our own baptism! Grateful for the new life given to us in this sacrament, may Christians always bear witness in the world to the values and truths of God’s kingdom!

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