01/15/2014, 00.00
VATICAN
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Pope: through our Baptism we are all called to be missionaries

At the General Audience, Francis emphasizes the Community dimension of being part of God's People. The example of Japan where a community left without priests kept the faith for 250 years and a thought for the Arab faithful today : "how difficulties and persecutions, when experienced with trust, confidence and hope , purify and strengthen the faith".

Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - With Baptism and the subsequent incorporation into the People of God that "marches throughout history ", "everyone in the Church is a disciple and we are all missionaries in the place which the Lord has given us".  Everyone "even the greatest is a disciple and the smallest is a missionary " and " the new evangelization must involve a new protagonism from all of us, the whole people of God, a new leading role of the baptized, each of the baptized".

Baptism was once again the focus of Pope Francis' catechesis, delivered to 50 thousand people present in St Peter's Square for the general audience.  It began, as usual, with a long tour of the square by the Pope who greeted, blessed and kissed babies.

As mentioned last week the Pope is dedicating a series of reflections to the sacraments, beginning with the sacrament by which we become "members of the Body of Christ and of God's people".

"In fact, as life is transmitted from one generation to the next, so grace is transmitted from generation to generation, through the rebirth of the baptismal font". When Jesus sent them " the disciples went to baptize and from that time to today, there is a chain in the transmission of faith for baptism, and each of us is a link in that chain; always one step ahead, like a river that irrigates. And thus is the grace of God, and thus is our faith, which we must transmit to our children, transmit to our children, so that they, as adults, can pass on the faith to their children. This is Baptism. Why?, Because Baptism makes us enter into this people of God, which transmits the faith . This is very important ! A people of God who walks and transmits the faith . "

Becoming part of the people of God, the Pope said , has a "community" dimension . "No one can save themselves on their own. This is important. No one is saved alone. We are a community of believers, we are the people of God and in this community we experience the beauty of sharing the experience of a love that precedes us all , but at the same time asks us to be 'channels' of grace for each other, despite our limitations and our sins . The community dimension is not just a ' frame ', an 'added extra' , but is an integral part of the Christian life , witness and evangelization. The Christian faith is born and lives in the Church, and in baptism families and parishes celebrate the incorporation of a new member into Christ and into his Body which is the Church, the People of God".

What happened in Japan is exemplary in this regard, which the Pope referred in particular to the Christians of the Middle East today . "That community suffered a severe persecution in the early seventeenth century. There were many martyrs, members of the clergy were expelled and thousands of people were killed. Not a single priest was left in Japan: they were all expelled . Then community then went underground, keeping the faith and prayer in hiding . And when a child was born , the father or the mother baptized him, because we can all baptize. When, after about two and a half centuries - 250 years later - the missionaries returned to Japan , thousands of Christians came out of hiding and the church could flourish . It had survived by the grace of their Baptism : but this is great! God's people transmits the faith, baptizing children and moving on. And they had maintained, even in secret, a strong community spirit , because baptism had made them become one body in Christ, they were isolated and hidden , but they were always members of the People of God, members of the Church. We can learn much from this story".

At his greetings to the faithful of the Arabic language, from Jordan and the Holy Land he repeated this exhortation: "Learn from the Japanese Church that because of the persecutions of the seventeenth century retired in obscurity for about two and a half centuries, passing on from one generation to another the flame of faith, keeping it alive. Difficulties and persecutions , when  experienced with expectation, trust and hope , purify and strengthen the faith . Be true witnesses of Christ and His Gospel , true sons of the Church , always ready to give a reason for your hope , with love and respect. May the Lord watch over your life and bless you".

 

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