Vatican City, Jan 8, 2017 / 07:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis announced Sunday after the Angelus that his “urgent” prayer for the month of January is for all those without shelter, who are especially affected by the cold weather during the winter.
“During these very cold days, I think of and I invite you to think of all the people who live on the streets, affected by the cold and many times by indifference,” he said Jan. 8.
“Unfortunately some didn’t make it. Let us pray for them, and let us ask the Lord to warm our hearts so as to be able to help them.”
Last week the Vatican announced that the Pope would be making some changes to his intentions in 2017, adding an “urgent” prayer intention himself each month, alongside the usual monthly intention, in order to garner rapid support for a cause.
In the morning on Jan. 8, the Pope said Mass in the Sistine Chapel, baptizing 28 babies. In his message before the Angelus, he said he would like to extend his “prayers to all parents who at this time are preparing for the Baptism of their child, or have just celebrated it.”
“I invoke the Holy Spirit upon them, and on children, because this Sacrament, so simple and yet so important, is lived with faith and joy,” he continued.
Pope St. John Paul II started the custom for the Pope to baptize babies in the Sistine Chapel on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
The Baptism of the Lord is typically celebrated on the Sunday following Jan. 6, which is the Feast of the Epiphany, unless in a particular country the Epiphany is celebrated on Jan. 7 or 8, as it is in the US, then the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the Monday following.
Speaking about Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, Francis reflected on how John says to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?”
John the Baptist “is aware of the fact that there is great distance between him and Jesus. But Jesus came precisely to bridge the gap between man and God,” he said.
“For that he asks John to baptize him, because it fulfills all righteousness, that is, you realize the plan of the Father which passes through the path of obedience and solidarity with the fragile and sinful man.”
This is one of the beautiful aspects of this feast day, the Pope noted. That it “makes us rediscover the gift and beauty” of being baptized people. That we are sinners “saved by the grace of Christ.”
Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to enter into the filial relationship of Jesus to God the Father, and be “welcomed into the bosom of Mother Church,” a relationship that knows “no boundaries and barriers,” he said.
The example Jesus gives us through his own baptism, is an example of the missionary style of Christ’s disciples, Francis said, which is “to proclaim the Gospel with meekness and firmness, without arrogance or imposition.”
The real mission is “never proselytism,” he continued, but “attraction to Christ,” which is brought out through strong union with God in “prayer, adoration and concrete charity, which is service to Jesus present in the least of our brothers.”
“In imitation of Jesus, good and merciful Shepherd, and animated by his grace, we are called to make our life a joyful witness that illuminates the path, that brings hope and love,” he said.