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Monday, January 14, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 13 JAN 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, having celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel where he administered the Sacrament of Baptism to 13 infants, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square, to pray the Angelus with the thousands gathered there.

  Before the Marian prayer, the Pope recalled how today's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord closes the liturgical period of Christmas. It was, he said, Christ's "first public appearance" following "thirty years of hidden life in Nazareth".

  His Baptism was, at one and the same time, "christophany and theophany" explained Benedict XVI, "Jesus showed Himself as 'Christ', a Greek term translating the Hebrew 'Messiah' which means anointed, yet He was not anointed with oil like the kings and the high priests of Israel, but with the Holy Spirit". In this context, the Pope referred to the Gospel of St. Matthew which recounts how at the moment of Jesus' Baptism "the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove".

  "The profound significance" of this, the Holy Father went on, "only emerges at the end of Christ's earthly life, in His death and resurrection. By having Himself baptised by John together with sinners, Jesus began to take upon Himself the burden of sin of all humanity, as the Lamb of God Who 'takes away' the sin of the world. This mission He accomplished on the cross, when he also received His 'Baptism'.

  "In fact", he added, "by dying He 'immersed' Himself in the love of the Father and disseminated the Holy Spirit so that believers in Him might be reborn from that never-ending font of new and eternal life. The whole of Christ's mission may be summed up in this way: Baptism in the Holy Spirit to free us from the slavery of death and 'open us to heaven', in other words ... to true and full life".

  After praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI remarked on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees which is being celebrated today and has as its theme young migrants. "Many are the young people", the Pope observed, "who for various reasons are compelled to live far from their families and their countries. Girls and minors are particularly at risk", he said, noting that "some children and adolescents were born and grew up in refugee camps" and that "they too have a right to a future".

  The Holy Father went on to express his appreciation for "those who work in favour of young migrants, their families and their integration into the workplace and schools". He invited ecclesial communities "to welcome with open arms the young, the very young and their parents, seeking to understand their stories and to favour their insertion into society".

  Finally, the Holy Father addressed some words to young immigrants themselves, inviting them to join their peers in building "a more just and fraternal society, undertaking your duties, respecting laws, and never letting yourselves be tempted into violence".
ANG/BAPTISM:IMMIGRANTS/...                    VIS 20080114 (510)

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