Knowing the Value of Baptism Is Vital, Says Pope

Links It to Missionary Drive

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The missionary commitment of a Christian is sustained through a rediscovery of the importance of his baptism, says Benedict XVI.



The Pope delivered that message today, in the waning days of this month dedicated to the missions. He was heard by tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square to recite the midday Angelus.

The Holy Father took advantage of the moment to comment on the Gospel passage of the day's liturgy. Mark 10:46-52 recounts the curing of the blind man Bartimaeus, wrought by a miracle of Jesus, an event whose decisive moment was the "personal, direct encounter between the Lord and that man who was suffering," said Benedict XVI.

"They are before one another: God with his will to cure and the man with his desire to be cured," the Pope observed. "Two liberties, two converging wills."

The blind man's entreaty, full of faith, ends in the miracle. "God's joy, man's joy," said the Holy Father.

And from that moment, Bartimaeus became a disciple of Jesus, "and he goes up with the Master to Jerusalem to take part with him in the great mystery of salvation," the Pontiff recalled.

The account "evokes the itinerary of the catechumen toward the sacrament of baptism, which in the early Church was also called 'Illumination,'" because the "faith is a path of illumination," noted Benedict XVI. "It starts from the humility of acknowledging one's need of salvation and arrives at the personal encounter with Christ, who calls to follow him on the way of love."

It is from this model that "the itineraries of Christian initiation have been established in the Church, which prepare for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist," he stated.

Catechesis

And in places where baptism is received as a child, the Pope continued, "catechetical and spiritual experiences are proposed to young people and adults which enable them to undertake a path of rediscovery of the faith in a mature and conscious way, in order to assume later a coherent commitment to witness."

The task carried out by pastors and catechists in this field is crucial, the Holy Father said. "The rediscovery of the value of one's baptism is the basis of the missionary commitment of every Christian.

"The Gospel shows that he who lets himself be fascinated by Christ cannot do without witnessing the joy of following in his footsteps."

He concluded: "We understand even more that, in virtue of baptism, we have an inherent missionary vocation."