Today we celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Here are excerpts from the Homily that Pope Benedict gave last year at the Sistine Chapel during which 13 children were baptized.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today's celebration is always a cause of special joy for me. Indeed, the administration of the Sacrament of Baptism on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is one of the most expressive moments of our faith, in which we can almost see the mystery of life through the signs of the liturgy.
In the first place, there is human life. It is represented here in particular by these 13 children who are the fruit of your love, dear parents, to whom I address my cordial greeting, which I extend to the godparents and the other relatives and friends present.
Then comes the mystery of divine life which God gives to these little ones today through rebirth in water and the Holy Spirit. God is life, as some of the pictures that embellish this Sistine Chapel marvelously evoke.
Yet it does not seem out of place if we immediately juxtapose the experience of life with the opposite experience, that is, the reality of death. Sooner or later everything that begins on earth comes to its end, like the meadow grass that springs up in morning and by evening has wilted.We all feel, we all inwardly comprehend that our existence is a desire for life which invokes fullness and salvation. This fullness is given to us in Baptism.
Basically, the whole mystery of Christ in the world can he summed up in this term: "baptism", which in Greek means "immersion".
The Son of God, who from eternity shares the fullness of life with the Father and the Holy Spirit, was "immersed" in our reality as sinners to make us share in his own life: he was incarnate, he was born like us, he grew up like us and, on reaching adulthood, manifested his mission which began precisely with the "baptism of conversion" administered by John the Baptist.
The purpose of Christ's existence was precisely to give humanity God's life and his Spirit of love so that every person might be able to draw from this inexhaustible source of salvation. This is why St. Paul wrote to the Romans that we were baptized into the death of Christ in order to have his same life as the Risen One (cf. Rom 6:3-4).
In the Rite of Baptism there is an eloquent sign that expresses precisely the transmission of faith. It is the presentation to each of those being baptized of a candle lit from the flame of the Easter candle: it is the light of the Risen Christ, which you will endeavour to pass on to your children.
Thus, from one generation to the next we Christians transmit Christ's light to one another in such a way that when he returns he may find us with this flame burning in our hands.Let us transmit the light of Christ to everyone we meet, not focusing in on others weaknesses or failings but rather on their dignity as fellow sojourners lost and searching as we are.