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Monday, January 11, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 10 JAN 2010 (VIS) - As is customary on today's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, this morning in the Sistine Chapel the Pope presided at the celebration of the Eucharist during which he baptised fourteen newborn children, seven boys and seven girls.

  In his homily the Holy Father explained how "today Jesus showed Himself, on the banks of the River Jordan, to John and the People of Israel". The Baptism of the Precursor was "a Baptism of penance, a sign inviting people to conversion, to change their lives because the One is coming Who 'will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire'. Indeed, we cannot aspire to a new world while wallowing in selfishness and in the habits of sin", he said.

  "The Son of God, He Who is without sin", the Pope went on, "comes among sinners, He shows how close God is to man's journey of conversion. Jesus takes on His shoulders the weight of sin of all humanity. He begins His mission by placing Himself in our position, the position of sinners, from the perspective of the cross".

  Referring then to the babies he was about to baptise, Benedict XVI explained that "they will receive as a gift the grace of Baptism, and the Holy Spirit will dwell in them as in a temple, transforming the depths of their heart. ... Today they are baptised in the faith of the Church, as professed by their parents, their godparents and by the Christians present, who will then lead them by the hand in the following of Christ".

  And he went on: "Today is a great day for these children. With their Baptism, having become participants in the death and resurrection of Christ, they begin with Him the joyful and exciting adventure of being disciples".

  "It is Baptism that illuminates us with the light of Christ, opens our eyes to His splendour and introduces us to the mystery of God through the divine glow of the faith. The children who are about to be baptised must walk in this light all their lives, helped by the word and example of their parents and godparents who should undertake - through their words and the witness of their own lives - to feed the torch of the children's faith that it may shine in this world of ours, which is often groping in the shades of doubt, and bring the light of the Gospel which is life and hope".

  "In our days too, the faith is a gift to be rediscovered, cultivated and witnessed. With this celebration of Baptism, the Lord grants each of us the chance to live the beauty and joy of being Christians, that we too may introduce baptised children to the fullness of following Christ.

  "We entrust these little one to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary", added the Holy Father in conclusion. "We ask her that they, dressed in white as a sign of their newly-acquired dignity, may be faithful disciples of Christ for all their lives, courageous witnesses of the Gospel".
HML/BAPTISM/SISTINE CHAPEL                    VIS 20100111 (530)

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