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Feast of the Baptism of the Lord - Jubilee 2000

Pope John Paul II's Homily at Holy Mass
+ administration of the Sacrament of Baptism in the Sistine Chapel
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased" (Mk 1: 11).

These words, recounted by the Evangelist Mark, bring us straight to the heart of today's feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which closes the Christmas season. Today we commemorate the manifestation of the mystery of Trinitarian love, which occurred right at the beginning of the Messiah's public activity.

On the holy night in Bethlehem, Jesus was born among us in the poverty of a stable; on the day of Epiphany, the Magi acknowledged him as the long-awaited Messiah of the nations; today, all our attention is focused on his person and mission. The Father speaks to him directly:  "You are my beloved Son", as the heavens are opened and the Spirit descends on him in the form of a dove (cf. Mk 1: 10-10). The scene on the banks of the Jordan thus presents the solemn proclamation of Jesus as the Son of God. And so his saving mission begins publicly.

2. The Baptism that the Lord receives takes place in the context of John the Baptist's penitential preaching. The ritual act of being immersed in water, offered by the Precursor, was an outward sign of repentance for sins committed and of the desire for spiritual renewal.

All this refers to the Christian sacrament of Baptism, which I will shortly have the joy of administering to these children and which we received a long time ago. Baptism inserted us into God's own life, making us his adopted children in his only-begotten "beloved Son".

How can we not give thanks to the Lord, who today calls these 18 infants to become his children in Christ? We surround them with our prayer and our affection. They come from Italy, Brazil, Spain, the United States and Switzerland. With great joy we welcome them into the Christian community, which today really becomes their family. Together with them I am pleased to extend a most cordial greeting to their parents and godparents who are presenting these little ones at the altar. Let us thank the Lord for the gift of their lives and even more for the gift of their spiritual rebirth.

3. It is very significant that the sacrament of Baptism is being administered in this Sistine Chapel, where stupendous masterpieces of art remind us of the wonders of salvation history, from man's origins to the universal judgement. It is even more significant to contemplate these signs of God's action in our lives during the Jubilee Year, which is totally centred on the mystery of Christ, who was born, died and rose again for us.

I hope that these little ones will grow in the faith they are receiving today, so that they can soon take an active part in the Church's life.

I ask you, dear parents, who are participating with intense feeling in this important moment, to renew the promises of your baptismal vocation. In this way you will be better prepared to fulfil your task as the first teachers of faith for your children. These little ones must find in you, and in their godparents, support and guidance on the path of fidelity to Christ and the Gospel. Be examples for them of solid faith, of deep prayer and of active involvement in the Church's life.

May Mary, the Mother of God and of the Church, accompany the first steps of these newly baptized children. May she always protect them, along with their parents and godparents. May she help each of them to grow in love for God and in the joy of serving the Gospel, and thus be able to give full meaning to their lives."

Papa Giovanni Paolo II's words at the Angelus
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Today's liturgical feast of the Baptism of the Lord closes the Christmas season, which we observed this year with exceptional fervour and participation. Indeed, the Great Jubilee began on the Holy Night with the opening of the Holy Door in St Peter's.

This Christmas season has offered us a new occasion to recall the "fact" that occurred 20 centuries ago and definitively changed the course of history: Jesus' birth in Bethlehem.

In recalling Jesus' birth, we celebrated the great mystery of Redemption, to which we pay particular attention throughout the course of the Jubilee. The Son of God became man so that man could be raised to the dignity of God's adoptive son.

2. Today's feast of the Baptism of the Lord reminds us of this intimate union with the divine life. As in past years, today I again had the joy of administering the sacrament of Baptism to a group of children in the Sistine Chapel. There were 18 all together: eight girls and 10 boys, from Italy, Brazil, Spain, the United States and Switzerland. In the context of the Jubilee Year, a time of grace, joy and renewal of life, this celebration of the sacrament of Baptism is a reminder for us all to return to the roots of our Christian vocation. All the good we accomplish with God's help really has its foundation in Baptism which, by imparting divine grace to us, makes us children of God and incorporates us into the community of believers.

3. Let us entrust these boys and girls who were baptized today, together with their families, their godparents and their Christian communities, to Blessed Mary, Mother of the Saviour. May the Holy Virgin accompany them with her motherly protection as they grow in faith and enable them to share every more deeply in the mystery of salvation which was initiated in them today.

May Our Lady also assist us, so that in this Jubilee Year we can be ever more faithful to our baptismal commitments by nourishing day after day the flame of faith entrusted to us at the beginning of our Christian lives."

After the Angelus:

"Rivolgo un cordiale saluto a tutti i pellegrini presenti, in particolare ai fedeli provenienti da Castellana Grotte e da Monopoli, come pure agli amici della "Fraterna Domus"."

JPII - Sunday, 9 January 2000 - © Copyright 2000 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana