· Vatican City ·

Homily at Holy Mass in the Sistine Chapel

Christian identity

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14 January 2022

“Christian identity” and the role of parents and godparents was the core of Pope’s Francis message for the Mass celebrated on Sunday morning, 9 January, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The Holy Father presided at Holy Mass in the Sistine Chapel, during which he administered the Sacrament of Baptism to 16 newborns, seven boys and nine girls. The following is a translation of the impromptu homily delivered by the Pope after the Gospel reading.

Today we commemorate the Baptism of the Lord. There is a beautiful liturgical hymn on today’s feast day that says that the people of Israel went to the Jordan with “bare feet and bare soul”, that is, a soul that wished to be bathed by God, that had no wealth, that was in need of God. These babies too come here today with a “bare soul”, to receive the justification of God, the strength of Jesus, the strength to go forward in life. They come to receive the Christian identity. It is this, put simply. Your children will receive their Christian identity today. And you, parents and godparents, must safeguard this identity. This is your task throughout your lifetime: to protect the Christian identity of your children. It is a daily commitment: to make them grow with the light they will receive today. This is all I wanted to say to you, this is today’s message: to protect the Christian identity you have brought your children to receive today.

This ceremony is a bit long, and babies feel strange in an unfamiliar environment. Please, they are the protagonists: make sure that they are not too hot, that they feel comfortable... And if they are hungry, you can easily nurse them here, in front of the Lord, there is no problem. And if they cry, let them cry, because they have a community spirit, let’s say an “orchestral spirit”, an ensemble spirit, and all it takes is for one to start — because everyone is musical — and immediately the orchestra begins! Let them cry, let them feel free. But don’t let them feel too hot, and if they are hungry, don’t let them stay hungry.

And so, with this peace, we go on with the ceremony. And don’t forget: they will receive the Christian identity and your task will be to safeguard this Christian identity. Thank you.