On Baptism and the World Family Meeting

«You Are My Sons and Daughters, My Beloved»

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 11, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On this Sunday, which follows the solemnity of the Epiphany, we celebrate the baptism of the Lord. This was the first act of his public life and all four Gospels give an account of it. At the age of 30, Jesus left Nazareth and traveled to the Jordan River and, along with many other people, had himself baptized by John. The evangelist Mark writes: «On coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him» (Mark 1:10-11). In these words: «You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased,» the nature of eternal life is revealed: It is the filial relationship with God, as Jesus lived, revealed, and gave it to us.

This morning, following tradition, in the Sistine Chapel, I administered the sacrament of baptism to three newborn children. To the parents, the godfather and the godmother, the celebrant customarily asks: «What do you ask of the Church of God for your children?» They answer «baptism,» and the celebrant replies: «And what does Baptism give us?» They answer: «Eternal life.» This is a stupendous thing: Through Baptism the human person is brought into Jesus’ unique and singular relationship with the Father, in such a way that the words that are spoken from heaven about the only-begotten Son become true for every man and woman who is reborn from the water of the Holy Spirit: You are my sons and daughters, my beloved.

Dear friends, how great is the gift of baptism! If we make ourselves fully aware of it, our life will become a continual «grace.» What a joy for Christian parents, who have seen a new creature blossom from their love, who have brought this child to the baptismal font and seen the child be reborn in the womb of the Church, for a life that will never end! Gift, joy, but also responsibility! The parents, in fact, together with the godparents, must bring up their children according to the Gospel.

This brings to mind the theme of the 6th World Meeting of Families in Mexico City, which will take place next week, «The Family as Educator in Human and Christian Values.» This great meeting of families, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family, will unfold in three parts: first the theological and pastoral congress, in which the theme will be explored and in which there will also be a sharing of significant experiences; then there will be a moment of celebration and testimony, which will bring to light the beauty of the meeting of families from every part of the world, united by the same faith and by the same commitment; and finally the solemn Eucharistic celebration, as a thanksgiving to the Lord for the gifts of marriage, the family and life.

I have asked Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to represent me, but I myself will also follow the extraordinary event with lively participation, accompanying it with prayer and through a televised talk.

Until then, dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to implore an abundance of divine grace for this important international meeting of families. Let us do so invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Family.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic] [After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

To all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, I extend affectionate greetings. On this feast of the Lord’s Baptism, Jesus descends into the waters of the Jordan, taking on himself the weight of our sins. When he rises from the water, the Spirit comes down upon him and the Father’s voice declares: «This is my beloved Son». Let us rejoice that the Son of God came to share our human condition, so that we might rise with him to everlasting life. Upon all who are here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2009 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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