2014-01-12 Vatican - “Every child who is born is a gift of joy and of hope, and every child who is baptized is a miracle of the faith and a feast for the family of God.”

Those were the words of Pope Francis on Sunday, as he greeted the tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly Angelus address.

Pope Francis spoke about Sunday’s Gospel passage concerning the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. When Jesus was baptized by John, “the heavens were opened for Him.” The Holy Father dwelt on this theme of the opening of the heavens. “If the heavens remain closed, our horizons in this earthly life are dark, without hope. On the other hand, celebrating Christmas, the faith again has given us the certainty that the heavens have been pierced with the coming of Jesus... The manifestation of the Son of God on earth marks the beginning of the great time of mercy.” God, he said, “gives us in Christ the guarantee of an indestructible love.”

The Holy Father continued, saying that we, too, can see the Heavens opened, “if we allow ourselves to be invaded by the love of God, which is given to us for the first time in Baptism, by means of the Holy Spirit.” And he repeated, “Let us allow ourselves to be invaded by the love of God! This is the great time of mercy!”

When Christ, Who had no need of baptism, received the baptism of repentance of John the Baptist, He was in solidarity with “the penitent people.” It is precisely because “He shared our condition, our poverty” that Jesus received the approbation of God the Father: “This is my beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.” “Sharing,” the Pope said, “is the true way of love.” By sharing our condition, Jesus made us His brothers, and together with Him, makes us sons of God the Father.

“Doesn’t it seem like we need an increase of fraternal sharing and of love in our time?” the Pope asked. “Doesn’t it seem like we all need an increase of charity?” Not a disinterested charity, he explained, “but a charity that shares, that cares for the hardship and the suffering of the brother.”

He concluded his Angelus address with a prayer that the Holy Virgin Mary would, through her intercession, “support us in our duty of following Christ along the way of faith and charity, the way traced out in our Baptism.”

At the conclusion of the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims from around the world, with a special greeting for parents who are preparing their children for Baptism.

Finally, Pope Francis made the long-awaited announcement of the names of the first group of new Cardinals who will be created at the upcoming consistory in February. For a complete list of the new Cardinals-elect, please see the full story on our website.