Today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This morning I baptized 32 newborns. I thank the Lord with you for these babies and for every new life. I like to baptize children. I really enjoy it! Every child who is born is a gift of joy and hope, and every child who is baptized is marvel of the faith and a festival for the family of God.
Today’s Gospel reading highlights the fact that, when Jesus received baptism from John in the Jordan River, “the heavens opened for him” (Matthew 3:16). This fulfills the prophecies. In fact, there is an invocation that the liturgy has us repeat during Advent: “O that you would rend the heavens and come down!” (Isaiah 63:19). If the heavens remain closed, our horizon in this earthly life is dark, without hope. But, celebrating Christmas, the faith has once again given us the certainty that the heavens have been opened by Jesus’coming. And on the day of Christ’s baptism we again contemplate the opened heavens. The manifestation of the Son of God on earth is the beginning of the great time of mercy, after sin had closed the heavens, making a barrier between human beings and their Creator. With Jesus’ birth the heavens are opened! God gives us in Christ the guarantee of an indestructible love. From the moment the Word was made flesh it is possible to see the heavens opened. It is possible for the shepherds of Bethlehem, for the magi from the East, for the Baptist, for the Apostles of Jesus, for St. Stephen, the first martyr, who exclaimed: “I see the heavens opened!” (Acts 7:56). And it is also possible for each one of us, if we let ourselves be invaded by God’s love! This is the great time of mercy! Do not forget it. This is the great time of mercy!
When Jesus received the of baptism repentance from John the Baptist, entering into solidarity with the repentant people – he who is without and without a need to convert – God the Father made his voice heard from heaven: “This is my beloved Son. In him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Jesus received the heavenly Father’s approval, who sent him precisely to share our condition, our poverty. Sharing is the true way to love. Jesus does not disassociate himself from us. He considers us brothers and shares with us. And in this way he makes us sons, together with him, of God the Father. This is revelation and the source of true love. And this is the great time of mercy!
Does it not seem to you that in our time there is a need for more fraternal sharing and of love? Does it not seem to you that we all need more charity? I am not talking about that charity that contents itself with extemporaneous help and does not get involved, does not put itself into play, but that charity that shares, that takes on our brother’s hardships and suffering. What flavor life has when we let ourselves be flooded with God’s love!
Let us ask the Holy Virgin with her intercession to sustain us our effort to follow Christ along the way of faith and charity, the way traced out by our Baptism.
[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:]
Dear brothers and sisters,
I offer all of you my cordial greeting, especially the families and the faithful from different parishes in Italy and other countries along with the associations and various groups who are present.
Today I would like to address a special thought to the parents who have had their children baptized and those who are preparing for the Baptism of a child. I join in the joy of these families, I thank the Lord with them, and I pray that the Baptism of their children with help the parents themselves to rediscover the beauty of faith and to return in a new way to the Sacraments and to the community.
As has already been announced, on February 22, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, I will have the joy of holding a consistory, during which I will name 16 new cardinals, who – belonging to 12 nations from every corner of the world – represent the profound ecclesial relationship between the Church of Rome and the other Church’s dispersed throughout the world.
On the following day I will preside at a solemn celebration with the new cardinals while on February 20-21I will hold a consistory with all of the cardinals to reflect on the theme of the family.
Here are the names of the new cardinals:
1 – Monsignor Pietro Parolin, Titular Archbishop of Acquapendente, Secretary of State.
2 – Monsignor Lorenzo Baldisseri, Titular Archbishop of Diocleziana, Secretary General of the Synod.
3 - Monsignor Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Archbishop-Bishop Emeritus of Regensburg, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
4 – Monsignor Beniamino Stella, Titular Archbishop of Midila, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
5 – Monsignor Vincent Gerard Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster (Great Britain).
6 – Monsignor Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, Archbishop of Managua (Nicaragua).
7 – Monsignor Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec (Canada).
8 – Monsignor Jean-Pierre Kutwa, Archbishop of Abidjan (Ivory Coast).
9 – Monsignor Orani João Tempesta, O.Cist., Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
10 – Monsignor Gualtiero Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve (Italy).
11 – Monsignor Mario Aurelio Poli, Archbishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina).
12 – Monsignor Andrew Yeom Soo jung, Archbishop of Seoul (Korea).
13 – Monsignor Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, S.D.B., Archbishop of Santiago de Chile (Chile).
14 – Monsignor Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo, Archbishop of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).
15 – Monsignor Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I., Archbishop of Cotabato (Philippines).
16 – Monsignor Chibly Langlois, Bishop of Les Cayes (Haiti).
Together with them, I add to the College of Cardinals 3 archbishops emeriti who are distinguished by their service to the Holy See and to the Church:
Monsignor Loris Francesco Capovilla, Titular Archbishop of Mesembria;
Monsignor Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, Archbishop Emeritus of Pamplona;
Monsignor Kelvin Edward Felix, Archbishop Emeritus of Castries, in the Antilles.
Let us pray for the new cardinals that, clothed in the virtues and sentiments of the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, they can more efficaciously assist the Bishop of Rome in his service to the universal Church.
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch. Goodbye!