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Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 2001

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

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters!
1. Today's feast, which closes the Christmas season, offers us the chance to go as pilgrims in spirit to the banks of the Jordan in order to take part in a mysterious event:  Jesus' Baptism by John the Baptist. We have heard the Gospel account:  "When Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased'" (Lk 3: 21-22).

Jesus reveals himself, then, as the "Christ", the Only-begotten Son, the object of the Father's predilection. And so he begins his public life. This "manifestation" of the Lord follows that of the Holy Night in the humility of the crib and yesterday's meeting with the Wise Men, who in the Child adore the king foretold by the ancient Scriptures.

2. This year I again have the joy of administering, on such a significant occasion, the sacrament of Baptism to a number of infants. I greet their parents, their godparents and all the relatives who have accompanied them here.

These children will shortly become living members of the Church. They will be anointed with the oil of catechumens, the sign of Christ's gentle strength, given to them to fight against evil. Blessed water will be poured over them, an effective sign of interior purification through the gift of the Holy Spirit. They will then be anointed with chrism to show that they are thus consecrated in the image of Jesus, the Father's Anointed One. The candle lighted from the paschal candle is a symbol of the light of faith which their parents and godparents must continually safeguard and nourish with the life-giving grace of the Spirit.

So I address you, dear parents and godparents. Today you have the joy of offering these infants the most beautiful and precious gift:  new life in Jesus, the Saviour of all mankind.

From you, fathers and mothers, who have already cooperated with the Lord in bringing these little ones into the world, he asks further cooperation. He asks you to support the action of his saving Word through your commitment to the education of these new Christians. Be always ready to carry out this task faithfully.

And from you, godparents, God expects a special cooperation, which is expressed by supporting the parents in educating these infants according to the teachings of the Gospel.

3. Christian Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, makes all believers co-responsible, in the way proper to each one's specific vocation, for the Church's great mission. Everyone in his own field, with his own identity and in communion with others and with the Church, must sense his solidarity with the only Redeemer of the human race.

This brings us back to what we have just experienced in the Jubilee Year. It showed the Church's vitality to the eyes of all. For the Christian the task remains, as the legacy of this extraordinary event, of confirming his faith in the ordinary context of daily life.

Let us entrust to the Blessed Virgin these little ones who are taking their first steps in life. Let us ask her to help us, above all, to walk in conformity with the Baptism we once received. Let us also ask her that these little ones, dressed in white robes as a sign of their new dignity as God's children, may be true Christians and courageous witnesses to the Gospel throughout their lives. So be it!"

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

"1. The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 ended yesterday, the Solemnity of the Epiphany, and today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I had the joy, as I do every year, of administering Baptism to a number of infants. In extending again an affectionate greeting to the families, I wish their children a future filled with the Lord's blessings.

2. Some Eastern Churches are celebrating Christmas today according to their calendar. On this joyous occasion I feel spiritually close to these dear brothers and sisters in faith, to whom I offer my most cordial wishes of joy and peace.

One with them in the faith and charity of Christ, I repeat today what I said on 25 December last in my Urbi et Orbi Message: "You, O Christ, whom we look on today in the arms of Mary, you are the reason for our hope! ... In you, only in you, is humanity offered the chance to become "a new creation'. Thank you, Child Jesus, for this your gift!".

3. In these days the deepest feeling in my heart is one of gratitude. Yesterday I was able to thank the Lord for the extraordinary gift of the Jubilee and those who generously worked to make its various events a success.

Today I feel obliged once again to express my most sincere thanks especially to the volunteers, who offered their services of welcome here in Rome, in Jerusalem and in many other shrines and basilicas, the destinations of many pilgrims. I do so as I address you, dear volunteers, who have just taken part in the Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican Basilica, at which Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, President of the Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, presided.

In you, dear brothers and sisters, I see the nearly 70,000 volunteers, young people and adults from many countries, who came to this city of the Apostles throughout the Jubilee Year to serve the Holy Year pilgrims. Faithful to the motto written on your uniforms: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25: 35), you accompanied thousands of people to the Holy Doors of the patriarchal basilicas. You were thus skilled guides, thoughtful helpers, privileged witnesses of God's wondrous deeds, experiencing the truth of the Lord Jesus' words: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20: 35).

On behalf of all the pilgrims, the Pope says "thank you"! And he hopes that you will treasure the experience you have had: as you return home, cherish in your hearts the Jubilee moments in which you took part and bring a "volunteer" attitude to everyday life, which will enable you to regard everyone you meet as a brother or sister to be loved and served, and will spur you to become builders of the civilization of love in the new millennium now beginning.

4. The United Nations has proclaimed 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers; in you I wish to salute and encourage all the world's volunteers, the men and women who freely offer some of their time in various forms of fraternal solidarity for the advancement and education of the human person, particularly by being close to the very poor and to those suffering materially and spiritually.

Volunteerism, in all its forms, is primarily a matter of the heart, of a heart that knows how to open itself to the needs of others, recognizing in them the highest human dignity, which reflects the greatness of God himself in whose image every human being is created (cf. Gn 1: 27; Mt 25: 40).

Dearest volunteers, let us entrust all your good intentions to Mary by praying the Angelus."

After the Angelus:

"Saluto con affetto tutti i pellegrini, in particolare quanti compongono il corteo storico-folcloristico "Viva la Befana", che quest'anno si ispira alle tradizioni di Cisterna di Latina e dell'Agro Pontino. Benedico in modo speciale le famiglie e ringrazio per i tipici doni offerti.

Rivolgo un saluto speciale ai cittadini di Castel Gandolfo, ove non ho potuto recarmi quest’anno in occasione delle festività natalizie. Desidero che sappiano che il Papa li pensa con particolare affetto ed augura un nuovo anno ricco di frutti spirituali e di cristiana prosperità!

A tutti: Buona Domenica!"

JPII - Sunday, 7 January 2001 - © Copyright 2001 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana