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Monday, January 9, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 8, 2006 (VIS) - The Baptism of Jesus, the festival that concludes the liturgical period of Christmas, provided the theme of Benedict XVI's reflections before praying the Angelus this morning.

  The Pope told the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square that it "was a Baptism of penance, using the symbol of water to express the purification of heart and of life. ... When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit came down upon him in the bodily form of a dove, and John the Baptist recognized that He was the Christ, the 'Lamb of God' Who had come to take away the sin of the world. Thus the Baptism in the Jordan was also an 'epiphany, an expression of the Lord's messianic identity and of His redeeming work, which culminated in another 'Baptism,' that of His death and resurrection, by which the entire world was purified in the fire of divine mercy."

  "The Baptism of children," he continued, "expresses ... the mystery of the new birth to divine life in Christ: the believing parents take their children to the baptismal font, which represents the 'bosom' of the Church from whose blessed waters the children of God are generated. The gift received by the newborn children needs to be accepted by them, once they have become adults, in a free and responsible way. This process of maturation will bring them to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, which confirms Baptism and confers on each the 'seal' of the Holy Spirit."

  "May today's solemnity be a propitious occasion for all Christians to rediscover with joy the beauty of their Baptism which, if experienced with faith, becomes an ever-present reality, renewing us constantly in the image of the new man, and in the holiness of thought and of action."
ANG/BAPTISM/...                                VIS 20060109 (310)

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