In his weekly general audience, Pope Francis reflected on the importance of the sacrament of Baptism, highlighting how it is a gift which incorporates us into the body of Christ and impels us to evangelize. “Let us not forget the great gift we have received,” Pope Francis stated during his Jan. 8 general audience, “our baptism has changed us, given us a new and glorious hope, and empowered us to bring God’s redeeming love to all.” The Pontiff greeted the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, announcing the beginning of a new catechesis on the Sacraments, during which he will reflect on each of the seven, beginning with Baptism. “The Second Vatican Council tells us that the Church herself is a ‘sacrament,’” he explained, “a grace-filled sign which makes Christ’s saving work present in history, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” As “the first of the Church’s seven sacraments, baptism gives us new birth in Christ,” said the Pope, and it “makes us sharers in the mystery of his death and resurrection, grants the forgiveness of sin and brings us new freedom as God’s children and members of his Church.” “Baptism is the sacrament on which our faith is founded and we are living members of Christ and of his Church,” the Pontiff emphasized, highlighting how it is not just “a simple rite or a formal act.” “For Him, we dive into the inexhaustible source of life; we come from the death of Jesus. So we can live a new life of communion with God, and with our brothers.” Pope Francis noted that although there are many who “don't have the slightest memory of this sacrament,” we are all “called to live each day aspiring to the vocation that we receive in Him.” “If we follow Jesus and remain in the Church,” observed the Pope, “with our limits and our fragilities, and sins…we become new creatures and we are clothed in Christ” through the Sacraments. Drawing attention to the Church’s missionary dynamic, the Pontiff explained how “our baptism has changed us, given us a new and glorious hope, and empowered us to bring God’s redeeming love to all, particularly the poor, in whom we see the face of Christ.” “Our baptism,” he continued, “has also given us a share in the Church’s mission of evangelization; as disciples, we are also missionaries.” “As we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord this Sunday, let us ask him to renew in us the grace of our baptism and to make us, with all our brothers and sisters, true children of God and living members of his body, the Church.” Pope Francis concluded his weekly address by inviting all to experience “in everyday life the grace that we receive in Baptism,” and greeted pilgrims present from numerous countries around the world. Turning to those in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, the Pontiff asked that they remember the day of their Baptism and celebrate it, because thanks to this Sacrament “we have all become new creatures in Christ, temples of the Spirit, adoptive children of the Father.” We are “members of the Church, brothers in faith and announcers of the Gospel,” he affirmed, who are “capable of forgiving and loving all, even our enemies.”
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