I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Mary models our participation in God’s plan for salvation

The mystery of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ taken together is the central mystery of revealed religion. The readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent help us enter into this mystery, using Mary as the model of how we're invited to participate in this incredible act of God becoming man.

DEAR FATHER | Examples of baptism of desire show more than one way to receive graces

Jesus tells Nicodemus at the beginning of St. John's Gospel, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit" (John 3:5).

POPE’S MESSAGE | Christmas reminds us of hope for the future

Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his apartment overlooking St. Peter's Square Dec. 18 at the Vatican.

VATICAN CITY — The birth of Christ is a reminder for Christians to take a moment and reflect on the hope of salvation given by God to the world, Pope Francis said.

Those who are humble and poor like the shepherds come to realize the promise of hope that comes from trusting God and not from "their own securities, especially material goods," the pope said Dec. 21 at his weekly general audience.

POPE'S MESSAGE | Jesus is free, salvation cannot be bought

Pope Francis accepted a birthday cake from television reporter Valentina Alazraki of Televisa at his general audience Dec. 16 in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The pope’s birthday was Dec. 17.

VATICAN CITY — Pilgrims must beware of people who seek to use the Jubilee Year to profit off of them since salvation is a gift that cannot be bought, Pope Francis said.

"Be careful! Beware of someone who is sly or sneaky who tells you that you need to pay. Salvation cannot be paid for, salvation cannot be bought. Jesus is the door and Jesus is free of charge," the pope said Dec. 16 during his weekly general audience.

Pope: Salvation is not for VIPs, it's offered to all God's people

VATICAN CITY -- Christ showed that the way to draw close to God is not by putting down other people and creating an exclusive club, but by embracing and encouraging others to love and do good works, Pope Francis said.

Christians can end up "privatizing" the faith when they believe "salvation is for me and my little group, not for the entire people of God," the pope said Jan. 29 during the homily at his early morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives.

I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Salvation is the free gift of the Lord

Bishop Robert J. Hermann

The readings for the third Sunday in Ordinary Time reveal an amazing thing: God wants mankind to share the goodness of the Holy Trinity. The God who said, "Let us make man in our own image" is taking the first steps in offering the holiness for which He placed in mankind such a profound hunger.

The first reading dramatically expresses this. God asks Jonah to go to Israel's most hated and cruel enemy, Nineveh, to offer His mercy and His love. This offer shocked the Israelites.

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