On January 13, Pope Benedict XVI appeared on the balcony of his study to pray the Angelus with people assembled in St Peter's Square at the Vatican. The subject was the feast of the Epiphany or Theophany of Jesus, at which time the Jesus' baptism by St John is also commemorated. This was the first Sunday following the feast, in which Catholic and Orthodox Christians consider the manifestation of God the Son in the Person of Jesus Christ, thus revealing the Triune God. The feast also notes Christ's baptism in which he sheds the dignity of his divinity to share fully in the humanity of mankind and begins his public ministry.
Speaking at noon, the Pope said "Today we celebrate, the feast of the Baptism of Jesus. That child?born of the Virgin, whom we contemplated in the mystery of his birth?we see as an adult, immersing himself in the waters of the River Jordan and thus sanctifying all waters and the entire world, as an Eastern tradition affirms. But why did Jesus, who had not the shadow of sin, go to be baptised by the prophet John? Why did he want to undertake this gesture of penitence and conversion together with so many others who wanted to prepare for the coming of the Messiah? This gesture that marks the beginning of Christ's public life, as all the evangelists testify, is part of the same line of the Incarnation, of God's descent from the highest heaven to the abyss of hell. The meaning of this divine abasement is summed up in a single word: love, which is the very name of God."
"Jesus who is baptised in the River Jordan is 'the new man who wants to live as a child of God, that is, in love; he is the one who, faced with the evils of the world, chooses the path of humility and responsibility, chooses not to save himself, but instead to offer his life for truth and justice. Being a Christian means living this way, but this way of life bears with it a rebirth: being reborn from above, from God, from Grace. This rebirth is the Baptism that Christ gave the Church to renew persons to new life."
The Pope baptized several children in the Sistine Chapel on January 13. Speaking to the crowds, the Pope extended blessings "to all newborns. Above all I would like to invite us all to recall our own Baptism, that spiritual rebirth that opened the path of eternal life to us. May every Christian, in this Year of Faith, discover anew the beauty of being reborn from above, from the love of God, and live as a true child of God."
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