By Christopher Wells
Following a long-standing tradition, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday. The feast commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by His cousin, St John the Baptist.
During the ceremony, the Holy Father baptized more than thirty children born in the past year to families of Vatican employees and diplomats accredited to the Holy See.
An act of justice
In his homily, immediately before the Baptism ceremony, Pope Francis recalled the words of Jesus when asked by John why the Lord was coming to him to be baptized: “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all justice”. “Baptizing a child is an act of justice”, the Pope said, “because in Baptism we give him or her a treasure, we give them a pledge: the Holy Spirit”. He said it is important to baptize children, “so that they grow up with the power of the Holy Spirit”.
He also urged them “to take care that they grow up with the light, with the power of the Holy Spirit, through catechesis, assistance, teaching, the example you give at home”.
This, he said, “is the message I want to give to you today”.
A beautiful homily
Pope Francis also showed his pastoral care for the young families, telling them not to worry if their children made a fuss during the ceremonies. “The children aren’t used to coming to the Sistine [Chapel]. It’s their first time”. If they do start to cry, he said, try to make them comfortable, but don’t worry if they keep it up. “Children are choral”, he said; if one starts making noise, they all join in. “Don’t get upset!” he said. “When a child cries in church, it’s a beautiful homily”.
“Don’t forget”, the Pope said in conclusion. “You bear the Holy Spirit within the children”.