The feast of the Baptism of the Lord concludes the season of the Nativity and the Pope, during the Angelus at midday on January 11, commenting on the passage in the Gospel of St. Mark – when the heavens open at the moment at which John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the Jordan – affirmed that this event marks the end of “the time of the closed heavens, which indicated the separation of God and man as a consequence of sin”.
Sin “alienates us from God and ruptures the bond between earth and heaven, causing misery and failure in our lives. The open heavens indicate that God has given His grace so that the earth may bear His fruit. Thus the world transforms into God’s dwelling amid humanity, and each one of us has the opportunity to meet the Son of God, experiencing all of His love and infinite mercy. We find Him truly present in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. We are able to recognize Him in the face of our brothers, especially the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, and refugees; they are the living flesh of the suffering Christ and the visible image of the invisible God”.
With the Baptism of Jesus, not only did the heavens open, but also “God speaks, making his voice resound anew: ‘You are my beloved Son: with you I am well pleased’. … And then the Holy Spirit descends, in the form of a dove: this enables Christ, the consecrated of the Lord, to inaugurate His mission, which is our salvation”. The Holy Father remarked that the Holy Spirit is forgotten in our prayers: “We need to ask for His help, His strength, His inspiration. The Holy Spirit, that fully inspired the life and ministry of Jesus, is the same Spirit that today guides Christian existence, the existence of a man and a woman who say they wish to be Christians. Placing under the action of the Holy Spirit our life as Christians and the mission that we have all received by virtue of our Baptism means rediscovering the apostolic courage necessary to overcome easy worldly comforts. … A Christian or a community that is deaf to the voice of the Holy Spirit, Who urges us to take the Gospel to the outermost limits of the world and of society, also becomes a mute Christian or community, unable to speak or to evangelize”.
“Remember to pray often that the Holy Spirit might help us and give us strength and inspiration, leading us forward”, concluded Pope Francis who, following the Angelus prayer, asked the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, especially those from Sri Lanka and the Philippines, to pray for him during his apostolic trip to these two countries, to commence on January 12.