Vatican City, 10 January 2016 (VIS) – Today at midday, following Mass in the Sistine Chapel, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, the Pontiff asked all those present to pray for the 25 babies he had just baptised, and remarked that the Gospel of the day "presents Jesus to us, in the waters of the river Jordan, at the centre of a wonderful divine revelation". In the words of the apostle Luke, "after all the people had been baptised, and Jesus also had been baptised and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased".
"In this event - attested to by all four Gospels - the transition from the baptism of John the Baptist, based on the symbol of water, to the baptism of Jesus happens 'in the Holy Spirit and fire'", the Pope continued. "The Holy Spirit, in fact, in the Christian Baptism is the principal architect: it is He who burns and destroys Original Sin, restoring to the baptised the beauty of divine grace; It is He who delivers us from the dominion of darkness, that is, of sin, and transfers us into the realm of light, that is, of love, truth and peace. This is the realm of light".
Francis explained that "the Holy Spirit, received for the first time on the day of our Baptism, opens our hearts to the truth, the whole truth. The Spirit guides our life along a demanding path, but one joyous in charity and solidarity toward our brothers. The Spirit gives us the tenderness of God's forgiveness and pervades us with the invincible strength of the Father's mercy. Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit is a living and life-giving presence in those who welcome Him, that prays with us and fills us with spiritual joy".
He invited all present to give thanks for this gift and to seek out the date of their own Baptism. "It is very important to know, because it is a date to celebrate: it is the date of our rebirth as children of God. So, this week's homework is to find out the date of your baptism. Celebrating that day means reaffirming our our attachment to Jesus, with the commitment to live as Christians, members of the Church and new humanity, in which we are all brothers". Following the Marian prayer, the Pope gave a special blessing to "all those children who have been baptised recently, as well as young people and adults who have recently received the Sacraments of Christian initiation or who are preparing. May Christ's grace accompany them always!".