Occasionally the pope makes a comment on something which, while not hugely important in the schemes of things (ie. not needing a special definition or encyclical), we still need to be reminded about.
In his homily for the feast of the Baptism of our Lord this year, he included this reminder:
According to the story of the Evangelist Matthew (3:13-17), Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John; in fact, all of Palestine flocked to hear the preaching of this great prophet, the announcement of the advent of the Kingdom of God, and to receive baptism, that is, to submit themselves to this sign that called to conversion from sin. Although it is called “baptism,” it did not have the sacramental value of the rite that we celebrate today; as you well know, it is in fact by his death and resurrection that Jesus instituted the sacraments and brings about the birth of the Church. [The baptism] administered by John was rather a penitential act, a gesture that invited people to humility before God, for a new beginning: Plunging into the water, the penitent acknowledged having sinned, he implored God to purify him of his sins and he was sent forth to change his erroneous behavior.
That “as you well know” is one of the Holy Father’s little tricks he probably learned as a professor. It is a way of saying to students “You SHOULD know this well, but I am quite aware that you probably don’t, and so I am trying to remind you without making you feel stupid.”
Thank you, Holy Father. I knew it, and so do all readers of this ‘ere blog, but we do need little reminders every now and again.