January 15, 2014
The faithful were reminded by Pope Francis
that through their baptism
they are reborn to a new life of grace and called to be witnesses of the Gospel to the World. According to Zenit News Agency,
Pope Francis continued his lesson on Baptism to the crowd attending his Wednesday’s General Audience at St. Peter’s square.
“Through Baptism we become members of Christ's mystical body, the Church. In every generation, we are reborn to the new life of grace and called to be witnesses of the Gospel to the World. Baptism makes us "missionary disciples”
within the communion of the Church. There is a close bond between our responsibility to live this new life within the Church, in our families and our parishes, and our mission to bring the Gospel to others as channels of God’s grace.”
Pope Francis said that St. Thomas Aquinas
says that whoever receives Baptism is incorporated with Christ and is added to the community of the faithful. He added, "We enter into the People of God and become members of a People on a journey, a pilgrim people in history. This grace is transmitted from generation to generation and with this grace, the Christian people journey in time, as a river that irrigates the earth and spreads God’s blessing in the world. The disciples went to baptize, and from that time to the present there is a chain, a step forward, always; like a river that irrigates. Such is the grace of God, and so is our faith, that we should transmit it to our children, because they as adults, can transmit it to their children through baptism."
Pope Francis continued, "All the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples to take the Gospel into the World. All of us in the Church are disciples our whole life, and we are missionaries. Each one of us is assigned a place by the Lord. Even the smallest is a missionary. All of us, including the bishops and Pope are disciples and missionaries.
On receiving faith and Baptism, we Christians welcome the action of the Holy Spirit that leads us to confess Jesus Christ as Son of God and to call God, “Abba”, Father!
All baptized men and women are called to live and transmit communion with the Trinity."
“No one is saved on his own,”
Pope Francis said. “We are a community of believers. We are the People of God and in this community we experience the beauty of sharing a love that precedes us all and at the same time asks us to be “channels” of grace for one another despite our limitations and our sins."
Pope Francis ended his address by sharing the history of Japan. He told the story of the persecution which took place in the early 17th century. "They endured harsh persecution for about two hundred and fifty years. Many of the clergy and faithful were killed. There was not one priest standing in Japan. All were expelled. The community went underground, keeping the faith and praying in secret. When a child was born the parent would baptize them, which can be done in particular circumstances. When after 250 years the missionaries returned to Japan, thousands of Christians came out into the open and the Church was able to flower again. They survived with the grace of baptism! A strong community spirit was maintained because Baptism made them become one body in Christ.
They were isolated and hidden, but always members of the People of God, members of the church."