Pope's Homily at Mass on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

“Baptism inserts us into the body of the Church, into the holy people of God. And in this body, in this people who are walking, faith is transmitted from generation to generation”

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Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s homily today during the Mass of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord where he baptized 33 newborns: 20 girls and 13 boys.

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We listened in the first Reading that the Lord cares for his children as a parent: He cares to give his children hearty food. God says through the prophet: “Why spend your money for what is not bread, your wages for what fails to satisfy? “ (Is 55,2). God, like a good father and a good mother, wants to give good things to His children. And what is this hearty food that God gives us? It is His Word: His Word makes us grow, it makes us give good fruits in life, like the rain and the snow do good to the earth and make it fruitful (cfr Is 55, 10-11).

So you, parents, as well as godfathers and godmothers, grandparents, uncles and aunts, will help these children to grow well if you give them the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus. And also give it with your example! Everyday, take the habit of reading a Gospel passage, a small passage, and always carry a small Gospel in your pocket, in your purse, to read. And this will be an example for the children, to see their father, mother, godparents, grandmother, grandfather, uncles and aunts, reading the Word of God.

Mothers, give your children milk – even now, if they are crying because of hunger, give them milk, don’t worry. Let us thank the Lord for the gift of milk, and we pray for those mothers – there are so many, unfortunately – who are not able to give their children food to eat. Let us pray and try to help these mothers. So, what milk does for the body, the Word of God does for the spirit:the Word of God makes us grow in faith. And thanks to the faith, we are generated from God. And that is what happens in Baptism. We heard the apostle John: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God.” (1 Jn 5, 1).

In this faith, your children come to be baptized. Today it is your faith, dear parents, godparents. It is the faith of the Church, through which these little ones will receive Baptism. But tomorrow, with the grace of God, it will be their faith, their personal “yes” to Jesus Christ, who gives us the love of the Father.

I was saying that it is the faith of the Church. This is very important. Baptism inserts us into the body of the Church, into the holy people of God. And in this body, in this people who are walking, faith is transmitted from generation to generation: it is the faith of the Church. And the faith of Mary, our Mother, the faith of St. Joseph, of St. Peter, of St. Andrew, of St. John, the faith of the Apostles and the Martyrs, that has come to us, through Baptism: a chain of transmitting faith. This is very beautiful!It is a passing from hand to hand the candle of faith: we will express this in a few moments with the gesture of lighting the great paschal candle. This great candle represents the Risen Christ, alive in our midst. Families, take from Him the light of faith to transmit to your children. You can take this light in the Church, in the body of Christ, in the people of God who walk in every time and in every place. Teach your children that their can be no Christian outside of the Church, you cannot follow Jesus Christ without the Church, because the Church is a mother, and makes us grow in love with Jesus Christ.

A final aspect strongly emerges from the biblical Readings today: in Baptism we are consecrated by the Holy Spirit. The word “Christian” means this, it means to be consecrated like Jesus, in the same Spirit in which Jesus was immersed in His whole earthly existence. He is the “Christ”, the Anointed one, the Consecrated one, we who are baptized are “Christians”, therefore consecrated, anointed. And now, dear parents, dear godparents, if you wish for your children to become true Christians, help them to grow “immersed” in the Holy Spirit, that is in the warmth of the love of God, in the light of His Word. For this reason, do not forget to frequently invoke the Holy Spirit, every day. “Do you pray, miss?” – “Yes” – “I pray to God” –  But “God”, in that manner, does not exist: God is a person and as a person exists the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Usually we pray to Jesus. When we pray the “Our Father”, we pray to the Father. But we don’t pray to the Holy Spirit too often. It is so important to pray to the Holy Spirit, so that He may teach us to bring our family forward, the children, so that these children can grow in the atmosphere of the Holy Trinity. It is the Spirit who will lead them forward. For this reason do not forget to invoke the Holy Spirit, everyday. You can do it, for example, with this simple prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” You can say this prayer with your children, and of course, for yourselves!

When you say this prayer, feel the maternal presence of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us to pray to the Holy Spirit, and to live according to the Spirit, like Jesus. Our Lady, our Mother, always accompanies the path of your children and your families.

[Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]
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