The Pope baptises thirty-three infants in the Sistine Chapel
Vatican City, 11 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Sistine Chapel the Holy Father presided at a Eucharistic celebration during which he baptised thirty-three children of Vatican employees. In his homily, citing the first reading, the Pope remarked that the Lord is concerned for his children, like a parent, and therefore ensures they receive substantial nourishment. “God, like a good father or a good mother, wishes to give good things to his children. And what is this nourishment that God gives us? It is His Word”.
The Word “enables us to grow and to be fruitful in life, like the rain and the snow are good for the earth and make it fecund. Therefore you, parents and godparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, will help these children to grow well if you give them the Word of God, te Gospel of Jesus. And also offer this to them by example! Every day, get used to reading a passage from the Gospel, a short one, and always carry a copy of the Gospel in your pocket, in your bag, so you can read it. And this will be an example for your children – seeing their father, mother, godparents, grandfather, grandmother, aunts and uncles all reading the Word of God”.
“You, mothers, give you children milk – and even now, if they cry with hunger, feel free to feed them. Let us give thanks to the Lord for the gift of milk and pray for those mothers – there are many, unfortunately – who are not able to give their children food to eat. Let us pray and try to help these mothers. So, what the milk does for the body, the Word of God does for the spirit: the Word of God enables faith to grow. As we heard in the words of the apostle John: ‘Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God”. Your children are baptised in this faith. Today it is your faith, dear parents and godparents. It is the faith of the Church, in which these little ones will receive Baptism. But tomorrow, but the grace of God, it will be their faith, their personal ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ, who gives us the love of the Father”.
He continued, “Baptism brings us within the body of the Church, as part of God’s holy people. And in this body, in this journeying people, faith is transmitted from generation to generation: it is the faith of the Church. It is the faith of Mary, our mother, the faith of St. Joseph, of St. Peter, of St. Andrew, of St. John, of the apostles and the martyrs, that has arrived with us through Baptism: a chain that transmits faith”.
“The candle of faith is passed from one hand to another”, explained the Pope, alluding to the Paschal candle that is lit during Baptismal rites and which represents Christ, resurrected and living in our midst. You, families, take from Him this light of faith to transmit to your children. You take this light from the Church, the body of Christ, the people of God that journeys through every time and every place. Teach your children that it is not possible to be Christian outside the Church, and it is not possible to follow Christ outside the Church, as the Church is our mother, and lets us grow in the love of Jesus Christ”.
Francis then turned to the final aspect to emerge from today’s biblical readings: that in Baptism we are consecrated in the Holy Spirit. “The word ‘Christian’ means consecrated like Jesus, in the same Spirit in which Jesus was immersed in all his earthly existence. He is the ‘Christ’, the anointed, the consecrated, and the baptised are Christians, that is, consecrated, anointed. And therefore, dear parents and godparents, if you want your children to become true Christians, help them to grow ‘immersed’ in the Holy Spirit, that is, in the warmth of God’s love, in the light of His Word”.