Pontiff also asks the faithful to pray for him as he travels to Sri Lanka and the Philippines
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Pope Francis today on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord called the faithful to intensify their prayer to the Holy Spirit.
In his angelus address overlooking St. Peter’s Square, the Pope focused on the "opening of the heavens" and the Holy Spirit’s descent upon Jesus in the form of a dove, recounted in St. Mark’s Gospel.
"The opened heavens indicate that God has bestowed his grace so that earth might bring forth fruit (cf. Ps 85:13). Thus the earth became the dwelling place of God among men and each one of us has the possibility of encountering the Son of God, of experiencing all of his love and infinite mercy."
On this earth, Pope Francis, we encounter Jesus most especially in the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament which perpetuates His true presence with us until the end of time.
The Holy Spirit, too, who is given to us in Baptism to sanctify us, is also present in our lives, and yet we often forget him, the Pope said.
"The Holy Spirit: the great forgotten One in our prayer. We often pray to Jesus. We pray to the Father, especially in the ‘Our Father’. But we do not pray so frequently to the Holy Spirit. Isn’t it true? He is the forgotten One."
The Pope therefore called the faithful to imitate Jesus in his own docility to the Holy Spirit, and to look to him always for help, strength, and inspiritation.
Here below we publish the full text of the Pope’s angelus address.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which concludes the Christmas Season. The Gospel describes what happened on the banks of the Jordan. When John baptizes Jesus, the heavens open. “And when he came up out of the water,” St. Mark says, “immediately he saw the heavens opened” (1:10). The dramatic cry of the prophet Isaiah comes to mind: “O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down” (64:1). This invocation was heard in the event of the Baptism of Jesus.
Thus ended the time of the “closed heavens”, which indicate the separation between God and man, the consequence of sin. Sin alienates us from God and breaks the bond between heaven and earth, thus determining our misery and the failure of our lives. The opened heavens indicate that God has bestowed his grace so that earth might bring forth fruit (cf. Ps 85:13). Thus the earth became the dwelling place of God among men and each one of us has the possibility of encountering the Son of God, of experiencing all of his love and infinite mercy.
We can encounter him really present in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. We can recognize his face in our brothers and sisters, especially in the poor, in the sick, in the imprisoned, in refugees: these are the living flesh of the suffering Christ and the visible image of the invisible God. With the Baptism of Jesus not only are the heavens opened, but God speaks again by making his voice resound: “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased” (Mk 1:11). The voice of the Father proclaims the mystery which lay hidden in the Man baptized by the Forerunner.
And then the Holy Spirit descends, in the form of a dove: this allows Christ, the Consecrated One of the Lord, to inaugurate his mission, which is our salvation. The Holy Spirit: the great forgotten One in our prayer. We often pray to Jesus. We pray to the Father, especially in the “Our Father”. But we do not pray so frequently to the Holy Spirit. Isn’t it true? He is the forgotten One. And we need to ask for his help, his strength, his inspiration. The Holy Spirit who wholly animated the life and ministry of Jesus, is the same Spirit who today guides the Christian life, the life of the man and woman who call themselves and desire to be Christians. Submitting our lives as Christians and our mission, which we all received in Baptism, to the action of the Holy Spirit means finding the apostolic courage needed to overcome easy accommodations with the world. Instead, a Christian and a community that are “deaf” to the voice of the Holy Spirit — who urges us to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth and of society — also become a “mute” Christian and community that do not speak and evangelize.
But remember this: pray often to the Holy Spirit to help us, to give us strength, to give us inspiration and to make us go forward.
May Mary, the Mother of God and of the Church, accompany the journey of all the baptized. May she help us to grow in love for God and in the joy of serving the Gospel, in order to give full meaning to our lives.
After the Angelus, the Pope said:
Dear brothers and sisters,
I greet you all, Romans and pilgrims alike!
With pleasure I greet the group of students from the United States of America, as well as the Lay Association of Merciful Love. There is so much need today for mercy, and it is important that the lay faithful experience it and bring it into the various social environments. Go ahead! We are experiencing a time of mercy, this is the season of mercy.
Tomorrow evening I depart for an apostolic trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Thank you for your good wishes in that sign [in St. Peter’s Square], thank you very much. I ask you, please, to accompany me by your prayer, and I also ask the Sri Lankans and Filipinos who are here in Rome to pray especially for me on this trip. Thank you.
I wish you all a good Sunday — although the weather is somewhat unpleasant — but have a good Sunday. Today is also a day to remember with joy one’s own Baptism. Remember what I asked you, to find out the date of your Baptism, so that each of us can say: I was baptized on this day. May today be a day of joy in our baptism.
Do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch, and arrivederci.
Translation by Diane Montagna of Aleteia’s English edition.