Visit to Wadi al-Kharrar
21 March 2000

From this river blessed  by his presence, Christ went forth to baptize with water and the Spirit

On Tuesday afternoon, 21 March, the Holy Father went to Wadi al-Kharrar in the Jordan Valley, where he led a prayer service commemorating the Baptism of Jesus. During the ceremony the Pope offered a brief reflection in English. Here is the text.

I want to greet all of you for having gathered for this brief prayer. In particular, I pray for His Majesty the King and I thank him again for the welcome I have received in Jordan. 

In the Gospel of Saint Luke we read that "the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness; and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (3:2-3). Here, at the River Jordan, where both banks are visited by hosts of pilgrims honouring the Baptism of the Lord, I too lift up my heart in prayer:

Glory to you, 0 Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! You sent your servants the Prophets to speak your word of faithful love and call your people to repentance. On the banks of the River Jordan, you raised up John the Baptist, a voice crying in the wilderness, sent through all the region of the Jordan to prepare the way of the Lord, to herald the coming of Jesus.

Glory to you, 0 Christ, Son of God! To the waters of the Jordan you came to be baptized by the hand of John. Upon you the Spirit descended as a dove. Above you the heavens opened, and the voice of the Father was heard: "This is my Son, the Beloved!" From the river blessed by your presence you went forth to baptize not only with water but with fire and the Holy Spirit.

Glory to you, 0 Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of life! By your power, the Church is baptized, going down with Christ into death and rising with him to new life. By your power, we are set free from sin to become the children of God, the glorious Body of Christ. By your power, all fear is vanquished, and the Gospel of love is preached in every corner of the earth, to the glory of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, to whom be all praise in this Jubilee year and in every age to come. Amen.

Before imparting the final blessing the Holy Father said:

I wish to thank everyone who has taken part and all who helped in the organization. A special word of thanks goes to the Patriarchs and Bishops, the priests, the Sisters. It has been a moving experience to celebrate with the Catholic Community of Jordan. And I cordially greet the representatives of other communities who have come from many other parts of the Middle East. I am grateful to you all. I feel especially close to the children and young people. Know that the Church and the Pope put great trust in you!

Special greetings to His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed.
I will keep all the people of JordanChristians and Muslimsin my prayers, especially the sick and the elderly. With gratitude I invoke abundant blessings upon His Highness the King and upon the whole nation. God bless you all! God bless Jordan!

After the blessing the Pope said:

May Saint John Baptist protect Islam and all the people of Jordan, and all who participated in this celebration, a memorable celebration. Im very grateful to all of you. Thank you very much.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
29 March 2000, page 2

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