VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday baptized 28 babies in the Sistine Chapel to a chorus of cries, telling parents that Jesus’ first sermon was the sound of his crying in the stable at Bethlehem.
The baptisms took place during Holy Mass, on the first Sunday after the Epiphany, as the Church commemorates the Baptism of Jesus on the banks of the Jordan River, by St. John the Baptist.
Accompanied by a repertoire of baby coos and gurgling, the pope gave a short, off-the-cuff homily on the supernatural gift of infused Faith, which is given in Baptism.
The pope reminded parents of their primary duty to raise and educate their children in the faith, urging them to “guard and treasure the faith, make it grow, so that it become a witness to others.”
“Faith is not just reciting the Creed on Sundays when we go to Mass: it is not only this. Faith means believing in the Truth: in God the Father who sent His Son, and in the Spirit who gives us life. But faith also means entrusting ourselves to God, and you must teach them this by your example and by your life,” he said.
As the sounds of crying grew louder, the Pope then quipped: “Now the concert begins!” And, as in years past, he encouraged mothers not to be afraid to nurse their babies, reminding them that the baby Jesus, too, was nursed by Mary.
Here below is an English translation of Pope Francis’ homily.
You have asked for faith for your children, faith which is given in Baptism. Faith: this means a life of faith, because faith is to be lived; journeying on the path of faith and bearing witness to faith. Faith is not just reciting the Creed on Sundays when we go to Mass: it is not only this. Faith means believing in the Truth: God the Father who sent His Son, and the Spirit who gives us life. But faith also means entrusting ourselves to God, and you must teach them this by your example and by your life. And faith is light: in baptism Baptism ceremony you will be given a lighted candle just as in the early days of the Church. And for this reason, Baptism in those days was called “illumination,” because faith illuminates the heart, and enables us to see things with a different light.
You have asked for faith: The Church gives faith to your children through Baptism. And you have the task of making it grow, protecting it so that it becomes a witness to everyone. This is the meaning of this ceremony. This is all I wanted to tell you: guard and treasure the faith, make it grow, so that it become a witness to others.
And now … the concert begins! [the babies begin crying]: It is because the children are in an unfamiliar place, and they got up earlier than usual. One begins and sounds the note and then the others mimic [imitate]… Some cry simply because another has cried… Jesus did the same thing! Did you know that?
I would like to think that Jesus’ first sermon in the stable was his crying… his first…. And then, since the ceremony is a bit long, some are crying because they are hungry. If so, mothers, nurse them and don’t be afraid… with complete normalcy. Just as Our Lady nursed Jesus.
Do not forget: you have asked for faith. To you is given the task of guarding the faith, making it grow, that it may be a witness for all of us: also for us priests, bishops and everyone.