On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord where he baptized 20 children during the Mass.
Speaking on the beginnings of Christ’s ministry, the Holy Father said that Jesus began first by going to the River Jordan to receive a baptism of penitence and conversion from John the Baptist.
“Was Jesus in need of penitence and conversion? Certainly not; And yet … he wanted to place himself alongside the sinners … expressing God’s nearness. … He demonstrates solidarity with us, with the weariness we feel in trying to convert, trying to leave aside our selfishness, trying to tear ourselves away from our sins, in order to tell us that, if we accept Him in our lives, He is capable of lifting us back up and leading us to the height of God the Father.
The Holy Father went on to say that in immersing Himself in mankind’s condition, Jesus is “capable of understanding our weakness and fragility.” Christ, he continued, chooses to suffer with human beings thus accomplishing his mission of healing the sick and “taking upon himself the sin of the world.”
The Pope recalled the Gospel account of the Lord’s baptism where the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit manifested in the form of dove, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah: “the Lord God comes with power to destroy the works of sin and his arm exercises dominion to disarm the Evil One.”
“However”, the Holy Father noted, “we realize that this arm is the arm extended on the cross and that the power of Christ is the power of He who suffers for us. This is the power of God, which is different from the world’s power. This is how God comes, with the power to destroy sin.”
The Sacrament of Baptism
Regarding the baptism of the 20 children present at the Mass, the Holy Father emphasized the profound unification of the those baptized with the mystery of the power of Christ, of His death and Resurrection.
“The heavens have also opened over your children and God says: these are my children with whom I am well pleased,” the Holy Father said to the parents of those baptized. “Included in this relationship and freed from original sin they become living members of the one body that is the Church and become capable of fully living their call to holiness so that they might inherit the eternal life obtained for us through Jesus’ resurrection.”
Pope Benedict also addressed the godparents of the children, reminding them of the importance of their duty in “sustaining and helping parents in their task of educating.” The Supreme Pontiff called on the godparents to set an example by exercising Christian virtues.
“It is not easy to openly and uncompromisingly express that which you believe in, especially in the climate we are living in, faced with a society that often considers those who live their faith in Jesus as old-fashioned and out of date,” the Pope said.
“In the wake of this mentality, even Christians run the risk of seeing their relationship with Jesus as limiting, as something that inhibits self-realization. But that is not so! It is precisely through proceeding along the path of faith that we come to understand how Jesus exercises the liberating activity of God’s love in us, which allows us to overcome our selfishness …. in order to lead us to a full life in communion with God and openness to others.”
Pope Benedict XVI concluded his homily reminding those present of the importance of Faith, which “must always be nourished with the Word of God and the Sacraments, so that these Christian virtues might grow and arrive at their full maturity, until they make of each one of these a true witness of the Lord.”