Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Angelus prayer to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square today.
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Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!
Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which concludes the Christmas season. The Gospel describes what happened on the shores of the Jordan. In the moment in which John the Baptist baptizes Jesus, the heavens opened. “On coming up out of the water – St. Mark says – he saw the heavens being torn open” (1,10). The dramatic supplication of the prophet Isaiah comes to mind: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!” (Is 63,19). This cry was heard in the event of the Baptism of Jesus. Thus the time of the “closed heavens” was over, which indicated the separation between God and man, a consequence of sin. Sin alienates us from God and interrupts the link between earth and heaven, determining our misery and failure of our lives. The opened heavens show that God has given His grace so that the earth may bear fruit (cfr Sal 85, 13). Thus the earth has become the dwelling place of God among mankind and each one of us has the possibility of meeting with the Son of God, experiencing all the love and infinite mercy. We can find it truly present in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. We can recognize it in the face of our brothers and sisters, particularly in the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the refugees: they are the living flesh of the suffering Christ and visible image of the invisible God.
With the Baptism of Jesus, not only are the heavens torn open, but God speaks making his voice resound once again: “You are my beloved Son: with you I am well pleased” (Mc 1,11). The voice of the Father proclaims the mystery that is hidden in the Man baptized by the Forerunner.
And then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove: allows the Christ, the Consecrated of the Lord, to begin his mission, which is our salvation. The Holy Spirit: the Great One forgotten in our prayers. We often pray to Jesus; we pray to the Father, especially in the “Our Father”; but not often to the Holy Spirit, right? He is the forgotten One. And we need to ask His help, His strength, His inspiration. The Holy Spirit who has entirely animated the life and ministry of Jesus, it is the same Spirit that today guides the Christian existence, the existence of a man and a woman who say they want to be Christian. To place our Christian lives and mission under the action of the Holy Spirit, that we have all received in virtue of our Baptism, which means to find the apostolic courage to overcome easy worldly comforts. Instead, a Christian or a community that is “deaf” to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who urges us to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth and society, become also a Christian or a community that is “mute”that does not speak or evangelize. But remember this: pray often to the Holy Spirit so that He may help us, give us the strength, give us the inspiration and lead us forward.
May Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, accompany the path of we who are baptized. May She help us to grow in love towards God and in the joy of serving the Gospel, to give us full meaning to our lives.
After the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims! I greet the group of students from the United States of America, as well as the Merciful Love Lay Association. There is so much need today for mercy, and it is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it to various social environments. Go forward! We are living in the time of mercy, this is the time of mercy. Tomorrow I will leave for an apostolic journey to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Thank you for your good wishes written on that banner, thank you so much! And I ask you to accompany me with prayers and I also ask the Sri Lankan and Filipino people who are here in Rome to pray especially for me and for this trip. Thank you!
I wish you all a good Sunday, even if the weather is a bit bad, but it is a good Sunday. And today is a day to remember the joy of your own Baptism. Remember what I asked you to do, to look for the date of your Baptism, so that each one of us can say: I was baptized on that day. May this day give us the joy of Baptism.
Do not forget to pray for me.
Have a good lunch and goodbye![Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]