Francis urges faithful to look up the date of baptism and celebrate it as their "second birthday", the day of their “rebirth". To baptize children because with Baptism "the Holy Spirit enters that child" that nourishes within "the Christian virtues that will then flourish".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Baptism, the first of the sacraments, "is the door that allows Christ the Lord to dwell in our person and for us to immerse ourselves in his mystery" and to live united to him "to collaborate in the Church , each according to his own condition, for the transformation of the world ". Having completed the cycle of catechesis on Mass, Pope Francis dedicated his general audience meditation to baptism.
Pope Francis also gave some “homework” to the 25 thousand people present in St. Peter's Square: to look up the date of baptism and celebrate it as their "second birthday", the day of their “rebirth".
With baptism, in fact, "the Easter of Christ, with its charge of novelty, reaches us" to transform us in his image: "the baptized are of Jesus Christ, He is the Lord of their existence". Hence the recommendation to baptize children because with Baptism "the Holy Spirit enters that child" that nourishes within "the Christian virtues that will then flourish".
"The Greek verb 'to baptize' - said Francis - means 'to immerse' (cf. CCC, 1214). The bath with water is a ritual common to various beliefs to express the transition from one condition to another, a sign of purification for a new beginning. But for us Christians it must not escape us that while the body is immersed in water, it is the soul that is immersed in Christ to receive forgiveness from sin and shine with divine light (cf. Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Dead, VIII, 3: CCL 2, 931, PL 2, 806). By virtue of the Holy Spirit, Baptism immerses us in the death and resurrection of the Lord, drowning the old man, dominated by the sin that divides from God in the baptismal font, and giving birth to the new man, recreated in Jesus. In Him, all the sons of Adam are called to new life ".
"Let us remember the last words of the Risen Lord to the Apostles; they are a precise mandate: "Go and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:19). Through the baptismal washing, those who believe in Christ are immersed in the very life of the Trinity. In fact, it is not just any water of Baptism, but water invoked by the Spirit who "gives life" (Creed). Think of what Jesus said to Nicodemus to explain his birth to the divine life: "A men, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit "(Jn 3: 5-6). Therefore Baptism is also called 'regeneration': we believe that God has saved us "for his mercy, with a water that regenerates and renews in the Spirit" (Titus 3: 5) ".
"Immersing ourselves in Christ, Baptism also makes us members of his Body, we are not isolated, that is the Church, and partakers of his mission in the world (cf. CCC 1213). The vitality that flows from the baptismal font is illustrated by these words of Jesus: "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit "(cf. Jn 15: 5). The same life, that of the Holy Spirit, flows from Christ to the baptized, uniting them into one Body (cf. 1 Cor 12:13), crested by holy unction and nourished at the Eucharistic table. Baptism allows Christ to live in us and in us to live united to him, to collaborate in the Church, each according to his condition, for the transformation of the world. Received only once, baptism illuminates our whole life, guiding our steps to the Jerusalem of Heaven. There is a before and after the baptism. The Sacrament supposes a journey of faith, which we call the catechumenate, evident when an adult asks for baptism. But even children, since ancient times, are baptized in the faith of their parents (see Rite of the Baptism of Children, Introduction, 2) ".
"Nobody deserves Baptism, which is always a free gift for everyone, adults and new-borns. But as happens for a seed full of life, this gift takes root and bears fruit in a soil that is fed by faith. The baptismal promises that every year we renew in the Easter Vigil must be revived every day so that the Baptism "christifies" the one who received it, it must be christified, resembling Christ, truly becoming Christ-like” .