The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Year C
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Mass Readings can be found here.
Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
See our extracts with pictures in Encouragements -185. 8-)
Today the Church celebrates the feast of Jesus’ Baptism, which concludes the Christmas season. The Gospel relates that Jesus began his public life by being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. In this way he wished to be associated with his many compatriots who performed this act of purification and preparation for the messianic kingdom. His decision seems disconcerting, to the point that John himself does not understand it and at first refuses to baptize him. He will do it only after Jesus insists. The latter wishes to fulfil all righteousness in the Father’s sight (cf. Matthew 3:15) as an expression of his solidarity with sinners, since he is the Lamb of God who came to take upon himself and to take away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). See, the Spirit descends upon him as he is absorbed in prayer, and at that moment “a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased’” (Luke 3:22).
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 11 January 1998)
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'" (Luke 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.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 7 January 2001)
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. Genesis 1: 27; Matthew 25: 40).
Dear volunteers, let us entrust all your good intentions to Mary by praying the Angelus.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 7 January 2001)
1. Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The Gospels say that Jesus went to John the Baptist by the Jordan River, desiring to receive from him the baptism of repentance. But immediately afterwards, while Jesus was praying, "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" (Luke 3: 21).
It is the first public manifestation of Jesus' messianic identity after the adoration of the Magi. This is why the liturgy brings the Baptism of the Lord closer to the Epiphany with a leap in time of about 30 years: today we see the Child whom the Magi adored as a messianic King consecrated by the Father in the Holy Spirit.
2. The messianic "style" of Jesus is already clearly outlined in his baptism in the Jordan: He comes as the "Lamb of God" to take upon himself and take away the sins of the world (cf. John 1: 29, 36). As such, John the Baptist points him out to the disciples (cf. John 1: 36). We too, after celebrating at Christmas the great event of the Incarnation, are asked to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, the human face of God and the divine face of man.
3. Mary Most Holy is a teacher of contemplation beyond compare. If, humanly, she had to suffer at seeing Jesus leave Nazareth, from his manifestation she received new light and strength for her pilgrimage of faith. The Baptism of Christ is the first mystery of light for Mary and for the whole Church. May it enlighten all Christians on their way!
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 11 January 2004)
So far, we have heard the account of the Evangelist Luke, who presents Jesus who remained hidden in the crowd while he went to John the Baptist to be baptized. Jesus had also been baptized, and, St Luke tells us, "was praying" (3: 21). Jesus speaks with his Father. And we may be certain that he did not only speak for himself but also of us and for us; he also spoke of me, of each one of us and for each one of us.
And then the Evangelist tells us that above the Lord in prayer, Heaven was opened.
Jesus entered into contact with the Father, Heaven opened above him. At this moment we can think that Heaven has also opened here, above these children of ours who, through the Sacrament of Baptism, come into contact with Jesus. Heaven opens above us in the Sacrament. The more we live in contact with Jesus in the reality of our Baptism, the more Heaven will open above us. And from Heaven - let us return to the Gospel - that day a voice came which said to Jesus: "You are my beloved Son" (Luke 3: 22).
In Baptism, the Heavenly Father also repeats these words for each one of these infants. He says: "You are my child". Baptism is adoption and admission into God's family, into communion with the Most Holy Trinity, into communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. For this very reason, Baptism should be administered in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity. These words are not merely a formula; they are reality. They mark the moment when your children are reborn as children of God. From being the children of human parents, they also become the children of God in the Son of the living God.
However, we must now meditate on the words in the Second Reading of this liturgy where St Paul tells us: "He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3: 5).
A washing of regeneration: Baptism is not only a word, it is not only something spiritual but also implies matter. All the realities of the earth are involved. Baptism does not only concern the soul. Human spirituality invests the totality of the person, body and soul. God's action in Jesus Christ is an action of universal efficacy. Christ took flesh and this continues in the sacraments in which matter is taken on and becomes part of the divine action…
In Baptism God himself acts, Jesus acts through the Holy Spirit. In Christian Baptism the fire of the Holy Spirit is present. God acts, not only us. God is present here today. He takes on your children and makes them his own.
But naturally, God does not act in a magical way. He acts only with our freedom. We cannot renounce our freedom. God challenges our freedom, invites us to cooperate with the fire of the Holy Spirit. These two things must go together. Baptism will remain throughout life a gift of God, who has set his seal on our souls. But it will then be our cooperation, the availability of our freedom to say that "yes" which makes divine action effective.
Pope Benedict XVI (Homily, 7 January 2007)
The Baptism of Jesus at the Jordan is the anticipation of his baptism of blood on the Cross, and it is the symbol of the entire sacramental activity by which the Redeemer will bring about the salvation of humanity.
This is why the Patristic tradition has dedicated great interest to this Feast, which is the most ancient after Easter. "Christ is baptized and the whole world is made holy", sings today's liturgy; "he wipes out the debt of our sins; we will all be purified by water and the Holy Spirit" (Antiphon to the Benedictus, Office of Lauds).
There is a strict relationship between the Baptism of Christ and our Baptism. At the Jordan the heavens opened (cf. Luke 3: 21) to indicate that the Saviour has opened the way of salvation and we can travel it thanks to our own new birth "of water and Spirit" (John 3: 5), accomplished in Baptism.
In it we are inserted into the Mystical Body of Christ, that is, the Church, we die and rise with him, we are clothed with him, as the Apostle Paul often emphasized (cf. I Corinthians 12: 13; Romans 6: 3-5; Galatians 3: 27). The commitment that springs from Baptism is therefore "to listen" to Jesus: to believe in him and gently follow him, doing his will.
In this way everyone can tend to holiness, a goal that, as the Second Vatican Council recalled, constitutes the vocation of all the baptized. May Mary, the Mother of the beloved Son of God, help us to be faithful to our Baptism always.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 7 January 2007)
See our extracts with pictures in Encouragements -185. 8-)
This morning I administered the Sacrament of Baptism to some new-born babies at Holy Mass celebrated in the Sistine Chapel. This custom is linked to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord with which the Liturgical Season of Christmas concludes. Baptism suggests very eloquently the global meaning of the Christmas celebrations in which the theme of becoming God's children, thanks to the Only-Begotten Son of God taking on our humanity, is a key element. He became man so that we might become children of God. God was born so that we might be reborn. These concepts continually recur in the liturgical texts of Christmas and constitute an exciting motive for reflection and hope. Let us think of what St Paul wrote to the Galatians: "God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Galatians 4: 4); or again, St John in the Prologue to his Gospel: "To all who received him,... he gave power to become children of God" (John 1: 12). This wonderful mystery which is our "second birth" the birth of a human being from "on high", from God (cf. John 3: 1-8) is brought about by and recapitulated in the sacramental sign of Baptism.
With this sacrament the person truly becomes a son, a son [or daughter] of God. From that moment the purpose of his existence consists in freely and consciously achieving what was and is the human being's destination. "Become what you are", is the fundamental educational principle of the human being redeemed by grace. This principle has many analogies with human growth in which the parents' relationship with their children passes through separation and crises, from total dependence to their awareness of being children, grateful for the gift of life received and maturity and the ability to give life. Generated from Baptism to new life, the Christian too begins his journey of growth in faith that will lead him to invoking God consciously as "Abba", "Father", to addressing him with gratitude and to living the joy of being his child.
Baptism also gives rise to a model of society: that of brothers. Brotherhood cannot be established through an ideology or even less through the decree of any kind of constituted power. We recognize each other as brothers and sisters on the basis of the humble but profound awareness that we are children of the one Heavenly Father. As Christians, thanks to the Holy Spirit received in Baptism, our lot is the gift and commitment to live as children of God and as brothers and sisters in order to be the "leaven" of a new humanity, full of solidarity and rich in peace and hope. We are helped in this by the awareness that in addition to a Father in Heaven we also have a mother, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is a perennial model. Let us entrust to her these newly-baptized infants and their families, and ask for all the joy of being reborn every day, "from on high", from the love of God which makes us his children and each other's brothers and sisters.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 10 January 2010)
The Gospel account of the baptism of Jesus which we heard in St Luke’s version shows the life of meekness and humility that the Son of God chose freely, complying with the Father’s plan to be obedient to his desire for love for man in all things, even to his sacrifice on the cross.
Having reached adulthood, Jesus began his public ministry by going to the River Jordan to receive from John a baptism of penance and conversion. What might seem paradoxical in our eyes actually happened. Did Jesus need penance and conversion? Of course not. Yet the One who is without sin put himself among sinners to have himself baptized, to make this act of penance. The Holy One of God joined those who recognized they were in need of forgiveness and asked God for the gift of conversion, that is, the grace to return to him with their whole heart, to belong totally to him. Jesus chose to join the ranks of sinners, to be in solidarity with them, expressing God’s closeness.
Jesus shows his solidarity with us, with our efforts to convert and to be rid of our selfishness, to break away from our sins in order to tell us that if we accept him in our life he can uplift us and lead us to the heights of God the Father. And Jesus’ solidarity is not, as it were, a mere exercise of mind and will. Jesus truly immersed himself in our human condition, lived it to the end, in all things save sin, and was able to understand our weakness and frailty. For this reason he was moved to compassion, he chose to “suffer with” men and women, to become a penitent with us. This is God’s work which Jesus wanted to carry out: the divine mission to heal those who are wounded and give medicine to the sick, to take upon himself the sin of the world.
What happened at the moment when Jesus had himself baptized by John? In the face of this act of humble love by the Son of God, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit showed himself in the form of a dove, while a voice from on high expressed the pleasure of the Father who acknowledged his Only- Begotten, his beloved Son. This was a real manifestation of the Blessed Trinity, that bears witness to the divinity of Jesus, of his being the promised Messiah, the One whom God sent to set his People free in order to save them (cf. Isaiah 40:2).
In this way the prophecy of Isaiah that we heard in the first reading came true: the Lord God comes with might to destroy the work of sin and his arm rules in order to disarm the Evil One. However, let us bear in mind that this arm is the arm stretched out on the cross and that Christ’s power is the power of the One who suffered for us; this is the power of God, different from the power of the world; thus God comes with power to destroy sin…
“‘God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him’ (1 John 4:16). These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny” (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, n. 1).
Pope Benedict XVI (Homily, 13 January 2013)
With this Sunday following the Epiphany the Christmas Season draws to a close: the time of light, the light of Christ who appears, like the new sun on the horizon of humanity, dispelling the shadows of evil and ignorance. We celebrate today the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus: that Child, Son of the Virgin, whom we contemplated in the mystery of his Birth. We behold him today as an adult immersing himself in the waters of the River Jordan and thereby sanctifying all water and the whole world, as the Eastern Tradition stresses. But why did Jesus, in whom there is no shadow of sin, go to be baptized by John? Why did he perform that gesture of penitence and conversion, beside all those people who in this way were trying to prepare for the coming of the Messiah? That gesture — which marks the start of Christ’s public life — comes in continuity with the Incarnation, the descent of God from the highest heaven into the abyss of hell. The meaning of this movement of divine lowering is expressed in a single word: love, the very name of God. The Apostle John writes: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him”, and he sent him “to be the expiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). That is why the first public act of Jesus was to receive baptism from John, who, seeing him approaching, said: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Luke the Evangelist recounts that while Jesus, having received baptism, “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, ‘Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased’” (3:21-22). This Jesus is the Son of God who is totally immersed in the will of the Father’s love. This Jesus is the One who will die on the cross and rise again through the power of the same Spirit who now descends upon him and consecrates him. This Jesus is the new man who wills to live as the son of God, that is, in love; the man who in the face of the evil of the world, by choosing the path of humility and responsibility he chooses not to save himself but to offer his own life for truth and justice. Being Christian means living like this, but this kind of life involves a rebirth: to be reborn from on high, from God, from Grace. This rebirth is the Baptism, which Christ gives to the Church in order to regenerate men and women to new life. An ancient text attributed to St Hippolytus states: “Whoever goes down into these waters of rebirth with faith renounces the devil and pledges himself to Christ. He repudiates the enemy and confesses that Christ is God, throws off his servitude, and is raised to filial status” Discourse on the Epiphany, 10: PG 10, 862).
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 13 January 2013)
Forty days after his birth, Jesus was taken to the Temple. Mary and Joseph brought him in order to present him to God. Today, on the Feast of Our Lord’s Baptism, you parents have brought your children to receive Baptism, to receive what your asked for at the beginning, when I asked you the first question: “Faith. I want faith for my child”. In this way faith is passed on from one generation to the next, as a sequence, over the course of time.
These little boys, these little girls, years from now, will take your place with another child — your grandchildren — and will ask the same: faith. The faith that Baptism gives us. The faith that the Holy Spirit brings today to the heart, to the soul, to the life of these, your children.
You have asked for faith. When the Church hands you the lit candle, she will tell you to safeguard the faith of these children. Lastly, do not forget that the greatest legacy that you can give to your children is faith. Take care that it is not lost, make it grow and leave it as a legacy.
I wish you this today, on this day that is joyful for you. I wish that you may be able to raise these children in the faith and that the greatest legacy they receive from you is truly faith.
Pope Francis I (Homily, 10 January 2016)
The Gospel presents Jesus, in the waters of the River Jordan, at the centre of a wondrous divine revelation. St Luke writes: “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, ‘Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased’” (Luke 3:21-22). In this way Jesus is consecrated and manifested by the Father as the Saviour Messiah and liberator.
In this event — attested by all four Gospels — is the passing from the baptism of John the Baptist, symbolized by water, to the Baptism of Jesus “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16). Indeed, the Holy Spirit is the principal artisan in Christian Baptism: it is he who burns and destroys original sin, restoring to the baptized the beauty of divine grace; it is he who frees us from the dominion of darkness, namely sin, and transfers us to the kingdom of light, namely love, truth and peace: this is the kingdom of light. Let us think about the dignity to which Baptism elevates us! “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are” (1 John 3:1), the Apostle John exclaims. This splendid reality of being Children of God entails the responsibility of following Jesus, the obedient Servant, and reproduces his lineaments in our very selves: namely docility, humility, tenderness. This is not easy, especially when there is so much intolerance, arrogance, harshness around us. But with the strength we receive from the Holy Spirit it is possible!
The Holy Spirit, received for the first time on the day of our Baptism, opens our heart to the Truth, to all Truth. The Spirit impels our life on the challenging but joyful path of charity and solidarity toward our brothers and sisters. The Spirit gives us the tenderness of divine forgiveness and permeates us with the invincible power of the Father’s mercy. Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit is a living and vivifying presence in those who welcome him, he prays in us and fills us with spiritual joy.
Pope Francis I (Angelus, 10 January 2016)
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Compiled on 13 January 2019