On the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel, and baptised 32 children.
Following a long-standing tradition, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday. The feast commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by His cousin, St John the Baptist.
During the ceremony, the Holy Father baptised more than thirty children born in the past year to families of Vatican employees and diplomats accredited to the Holy See.
In his homily, immediately before the Baptism ceremony, Pope Francis recalled the words of Jesus when asked by John why the Lord was coming to him to be baptised: “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all justice.” “Baptising a child is an act of justice,” the Pope said, “because in Baptism we give him or her a treasure, we give them a pledge: the Holy Spirit.” He said it is important to baptise children, “so that they grow up with the power of the Holy Spirit.”
He also urged them “to take care that they grow up with the light, with the power of the Holy Spirit, through catechesis, assistance, teaching, the example you give at home.”
This, he said, “is the message I want to give to you today.”
Pope Francis also showed his pastoral care for the young families, telling them not to worry if their children made a fuss during the ceremonies. “The children aren’t used to coming to the Sistine [Chapel]. It’s their first time.” If they do start to cry, he said, try to make them comfortable, but don’t worry if they keep it up. “Children are choral,” he said; if one starts making noise, they all join in. “Don’t get upset!” he said. “When a child cries in church, it’s a beautiful homily.”
“Don’t forget,” the Pope said in conclusion. “You bear the Holy Spirit within the children.”
Recalling the joy of having just baptised several babies in the Vatican, Pope Francis then addressed the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer and spoke about how Christians today must adopt Jesus’ meek and simple attitude.
He asked those present for prayers for the little ones and for their families, and he reflected on the liturgy of the day, which recounts the Baptism of Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew.
The Evangelist, the Pope said, describes the dialogue between Jesus – who asks to be baptised – and John the Baptist, who is surprised by this request because he knows that the Messiah did not need purification; and in fact, it is he who needed to be baptised by the Lord.
But God, Pope Francis said, is the Holy One: “His ways are not ours, and Jesus is God’s Way, a way that is unpredictable.”
Explaining that the Son of God came to bridge the distance between humanity and God, he said that “If Jesus is completely on God’s side, He is also completely on humanity’s side.”
That’s why, he continued, Jesus replies to John “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.”
“That is, He fulfils the Father’s plan which comes by way of filial obedience and solidarity with a frail and sinful humanity. It is the path of humility and of the closeness of God to His children,” he said.
The Pope explained that Jesus fulfils His mission in the world with a style that goes against the spirit of the world: “This is the attitude of the meek, and this is what Jesus teaches us with His humility, His meekness: the attitude of simplicity, of respect, of moderation and hiddenness, which is also required of the Lord’s disciples today.”
Unfortunately, he said, many people boast about being the Lord’s disciples; and these are not good disciples of the Lord. Rather, “the good disciple is the humble one, the meek one, the one who does good” without making a show of it. Christians are called, he said, “to go out to meet others always proposing, not imposing, giving testimony, sharing real life with people.”
As soon as Jesus was baptised in the Jordan River, the Pope continued, the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove, while a voice resounded from on high saying: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
The Pope concluded his remarks with a reminder to those present that in the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we rediscover our own Baptism.
“Just as Jesus is the Father’s beloved Son,” he said, “we too, reborn by water and the Holy Spirit, know that we are beloved children, the object of the Father’s pleasure, brothers and sisters among many other brothers and sisters, entrusted with a grand mission to witness and proclaim the Father’s boundless love to all men and women.”
For those who don’t know when they were baptised, he proposed “a homework assignment”: to find out the date of their baptism. And then, he called on them to celebrate the date of their Baptism every year, reminding everyone that this “is also a duty of justice to the Lord who has been so good to us.”
Vatican News and Christopher Wells – Pope Francis baptises children in Sistine Chapel
Vatican News and Linda Bordoni – Pope at Angelus: ‘Jesus teaches us to be meek, simple, respectful’