On the Baptism of Jesus

"He Comes as the 'Lamb of God'"

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 11, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II delivered today before praying the Angelus at midday.



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1. Today is celebrated the Baptism of the Lord. The Gospels recount that Jesus went to John the Baptist near the Jordan River, and asked to receive the baptism of penance from him. But immediately after, while he was praying, "the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased'" (Luke 3:21-22).

It is the first public manifestation of the messianic identity of Jesus, after the adoration of the magi. This is the reason why the liturgy relates the Baptism to Epiphany, with a chronological leap of some 30 years: The Child, whom the magi worshipped as the messianic king, is consecrated today by the Father in the Holy Spirit.

2. In the Baptism in the Jordan, Jesus' messianic "style" is already clearly perceived: He comes as the "Lamb of God" to take upon himself and to take away the sin of the world (see John 1:29,36). This is how the Baptist presents him to the disciples (see John 1:36). In the same way, we, who at Christmas celebrated the great event of the Incarnation, are invited to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, the human face of God and the divine face of man.

3. Mary Most Holy is the unsurpassable teacher of contemplation. If she had to suffer humanly in seeing Jesus leave Nazareth, from his manifestation she received new light and strength for the pilgrimage of faith. The baptism of Christ constitutes the first mystery of light for Mary and for the whole Church. May it shed light on the path of all Christians!

[Translation by ZENIT]