POPE'S MESSAGE | Reborn in baptism, Christians are called to live like Christ

Paul Haring | Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The baptismal font is a tomb in which a person dies to sin, and a womb through which a person is born to new life in Christ, Pope Francis said.

"Just as our parents generated us to earthly life, the Church has regenerated us to eternal life through baptism," the pope said May 9 at his general audience.

Continuing a series of audience talks about baptism, Pope Francis said that from the time a person is baptized, God's voice repeats what God said at Jesus' baptism, "You are my beloved son. You are my beloved daughter."

"God loves us so much," the pope told the crowd in St. Peter's Square.

"Reborn as children of God, that is what we'll be forever," he said. "Baptism, in fact, is never repeated because it imposes an indelible spiritual seal. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. This baptismal mark will never disappear."

Pope Francis said he could imagine someone objecting, "But, Father, if someone becomes a criminal — one of those infamous ones who kills people, who commits injustices — won't the mark be gone?"

"No," the pope responded. Although a person sins and turns from God, "God never disowns His children. Do you understand? God never disowns His children."

Baptism is a sacrament that purifies, sanctifies and justifies people, giving them the grace to conform themselves to Christ, he said. "Here lies the Christian vocation: to live united to Christ in His holy Church," sharing its mission.

Consecrated to Christ in baptism, the pope said, Christians are called "to make themselves an offering pleasing to God, giving witness to Him through a life of faith and charity, putting oneself at the service of others following the example of the Lord Jesus." 

Love is constant caring for others

ROME — Love is not all hearts and flowers or what is presented in a sappy romantic film, Pope Francis said. "Love is something else. Love is taking responsibility for others."

Visiting Blessed Sacrament parish in the Rome suburb of Tor de' Schiavi May 6, Pope Francis focused on the day's Gospel reading about "remaining" in Jesus' love.

"Love isn't playing violins, violins, all romantic," the pope said in the homily at Mass. "No. Love is work."

But that work is not drudgery, he said. It brings joy.

Before celebrating Mass, the pope went up to what had been a series of storage rooms and classrooms on the floor above the church. The rooms have been transformed into the "Casa di Gioia" ("House of Joy") and the pope blessed the premises.

Father Maurizio Mirilli, the pastor, explained to the pope that a few years ago, a group of older women who had children with disabilities shared with him their anguish over what would happen to their children once they were gone.

A little while later, he said, he went to a retreat, and heard Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila comment on the Gospel story where friends take the roof off the building where Jesus is so that they can lower down their paralyzed friend for Jesus to heal. He immediately started thinking about the rooms above the church. Now, the rooms are home to seven people with disabilities, two religious sisters and a laywoman.

In the homily, Pope Francis had asked each person in the congregation to think about how well they respond to Jesus' request, "Remain in my love."

"Do I remain in the Lord's love? Or do I leave it, seeking other things, forms of fun, other ways of leading my life?" the pope told them to ask. "To remain in His love is to do what Jesus did for us. He gave His life for us. He was our servant; He came to serve."

Before blessing the group home and celebrating the Mass, Pope Francis fielded questions from parishioners outside.

Most wanted advice. He urged parents to "waste time" playing with their children, especially when they are small, because it is an important sign of love and opens a way to teach them many things, including about the faith.

— Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service 

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