Sunday, January 11th, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI celebrated today’s Solemnity of the Lord’s Baptism by offering Mass in the Sistine Chapel, during which he baptized 13 children. Imagine the joy of those parents and godparents!
Reproduced below is the homily Pope Benedict delivered to them.
SOLEMNITY OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
January 11, 2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
The words that the Evangelist Mark recounts at the beginning of his Gospel: “You are my Son, my beloved: in you I am well pleased” (1:11) bring us to the heart of today’s feast of the baptism of the Lord, with which the Christmas season concludes. The cycle of Christmas solemnities brings us to meditate on the birth of Jesus announced by the angels suffused with the luminous splendor of God; Christmas time speaks to us of the star that guided the magi from the east to the house of Bethlehem, and it invites us to look to the heavens opened above the Jordan as the voice of God resounds.
They are all signs through which the Lord does not tire of repeating to us: “Yes, I am here. I know you. I love you. There is a road that leads from me to you. And there is a road that leads from you to me.” In Jesus, the Creator assumed the dimensions of a Child, of a human being like us, who we may see and touch. At the same time, in making himself small, God made the light of his greatness shine — because, by lowering himself to the defenseless impotence of love, he shows the nature of true greatness, indeed, what it means to be God.
Today the heavens are opened
and the waters of the sea became sweet and fragrant;
the earth rejoiced, the mountains and hills exulted,
because Christ was baptized by John in the Jordan.
“Someone might ask, ‘Why would a holy man desire baptism?’ Listen to the answer: Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and by his cleansing to purify the waters which he touched. For the consecration of Christ involves a more significant consecration of the water.
“For when the Savior is washed all water is for our baptism is made clean, purified at is source for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of future ages. Christ is the first to be baptized, then, so that Christians will follow after him with confidence.”
- St. Maximus of Turin
Almighty, eternal God,
when the Spirit descended upon Jesus
at his baptism in the Jordan,
you revealed him as your own beloved Son.
Keep us, your children born of water and the Spirit,
faithful to your calling.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.