Extracted from the letter of Saint Paul to Titus 2:11-14,3:4-7:
God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race and taught us that what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions; we must be self-restrained and live good and religious lives here in this present world, while we are waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the Appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Christ Jesus. He sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.
But when the kindness and love of God our saviour for mankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.
Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Luke 3:15-16,21-22:
A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’
On 13 January 2013, the Universal Church celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ, the following Readings were read in Holy Mass:
1st Reading: Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7 (see previous page),
Responsorial: Psalm 104:1-4,24-25,27-30 (see previous page),
2nd Reading: Titus 2:11-14,3:4-7 (see above) &
Gospel Reading: Luke 3:15-16,21-22 (see above).
We have also extracted the past Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II & Pope Benedict XVI based on the aforesaid Readings to share with you as they have touched our hearts. We hope that you will similarly be encouraged by their words; in realizing the tremendous gifts that have been bestowed on us when we were baptized as Christians. 8-)
FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 11 January 1998
1. “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
With these words, repeated in today’s liturgy, the Father shows his Son to men and reveals his mission as one consecrated to God, as the Messiah.
At Christmas we contemplated with wonder and interior joy the appearance of “the grace of God ... for the salvation of all men” (Titus 2:11), a grace that took the physical features of the Child Jesus, the Son of God born as man of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. And then we discovered the first manifestations of Christ, “the true light that enlightens every man” (John 1:9), which first shone for the shepherds on the holy night and then for the Magi, the first of the peoples called to faith, who set out by the light of the star that they had seen in the sky and who came to Bethlehem to adore the new-born Child (cf. Matthew 2:2).
At the Jordan, together with the manifestation of Jesus we also see the first manifestation of the Trinitarian nature of God: Jesus, indicated by the Father as his beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit who descends and remains over him.
2. Dear brothers and sisters, today I again have the joy of welcoming some infants to administer the sacrament of Baptism to them. This year there are 10 boys and nine girls, who come from Italy, Brazil, Mexico and Poland.
To you, dear parents and godparents, I extend a cordial greeting and warm congratulations. You know how this sacrament, instituted by the risen Christ (cf. Matthew 28:18-19), is the first sacrament of Christian initiation and serves as the entrance way to the life of the Spirit. In it the baptized person is consecrated to the Father in the Holy Spirit, in the image of Christ, the new Man, and made a member of the Church, his Mystical Body.
Baptism is called the “washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5), the birth by water and the Spirit without which no one “can enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). It is also called enlightenment, because those who receive it “are enlightened in their minds” (St Justin, Apology, I, 61:12: PG 6:344).
According to St Gregory Nazianzen, “Baptism is the most beautiful and marvellous of the gifts of God.... We call it ... gift, because it is given to those who do not bring anything; grace, because it is bestowed even on the guilty; baptism, because sin is buried in the water; anointing, because it is sacred and royal (as are those who are anointed); enlightenment, because it is radiant light; garment, because it covers our shame; bath, because it washes us; seal, because it preserves us and is a sign of the lordship of God” (Orations 40:3-4; PG 36:361C).
3. I look with pleasure on these children on whom the sacrament of Baptism will be conferred today, here in the Sistine Chapel. Their membership in the Christian communities of various countries highlights the universality of the call to the faith.
They are, as St Augustine says, “the Church's offspring: grace of the Father, fruitfulness of the Mother, devout shoot, new swarm, flower of our heart ... my joy and my crown” (Orations VIII: 1, 4; PL 46:838).
Today’s celebration invites us all to reflect on the commitments made at Baptism, to renew our decision to keep the flame of faith always alive, in order to become more and more the Father’s beloved children.
It is especially you, dear parents, whom I am addressing: with the support of the Christian community and with the help of the godparents, you will educate these children of yours in the faith and you will guide them on their way to the fullness of Christian maturity. May you always be assisted in this great mission by the Holy Family of Nazareth.
4. We call upon the Holy Spirit, to whom this second year of preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000 is dedicated. As he descended on Jesus near the Jordan River, so may he rest today upon each of these children and lead them, with his light and strength, to relive the stages of Christ's life.
We entrust these infants and their families to Mary, the Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. May they be able to hear and follow the Word of the Lord; nourished by the Eucharistic Bread, may they learn to love God and their neighbour as the divine Master has taught us and thus become heirs to the kingdom of heaven.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, this year too I have the joy of administering the sacrament of Baptism to some new-born babies whose parents are presenting them to the Church. Welcome, dear mothers and fathers of these little ones, and you, the godfathers and godmothers, friends and relatives who have gathered round them. Let us give thanks to God who today calls these seven girls and seven boys to become his children in Christ. Let us surround them with prayers and affection and welcome them joyfully into the Christian Community which from this day becomes their family too.