Pope at General Audience: No One Is Excluded From God’s Mercy
Reflecting on Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Stresses Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Are ‘Really Brothers,’ Have a ‘Common Mission’
No one is excluded from God’s mercy. No One.
Pope Francis stressed this during his General Audience this morning in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, as he reflected on this being the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, he reminded those gathered that all Christians are to transmit this mercy throughout the world.
The Pontiff explained that this year’s theme was drawn from the First Letter of Peter, in which Peter encourages the first Christians to acknowledge the great gift received in Baptism and to live in a way worthy of it.
Recalling that Peter tells them, ‘You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people,’ Francis stresses that this week invites us to reflect on our ‘unity in Christ as God’s people.’
“All the baptized, reborn to new life in Christ, are brothers and sisters, despite our divisions,” he stressed.
Through Baptism, Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox, Francis stressed, are all brothers and are “God’s holy people.”
Together, he said, we are to rediscover how to transmit this mercy we received to others, especially the poor and abandoned.
Sharing in Baptism means having the awareness, he stressed, “that we are all sinners and we need to be saved, redeemed and freed from evil.”
“We Christians are able to announce to all the strength of the Gospel, committing ourselves to share the corporal and spiritual works of mercy,” that are “a concrete sign of unity.”
Therefore, he continued, all Christians have a “common mission” to “transmit the mercy we’ve received to others.”
“Let all of us disciples of Christ,” Pope Francis urged, “find a way to collaborate to carry the Father’s mercy throughout all the world.”
GENERAL AUDIENCE: On Christian Unity
‘God’s mercy, which operates in Baptism, is stronger than our divisions.’
Here is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ General Audience address this morning in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall:
Holy Father’s Catechesis:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We have heard the biblical text that, this year, guides the reflection during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which is going on this week, from January 18th to 25th. The passage from the First Letter of Saint Peter was chosen by an ecumenical group of Latvia, requested by the Ecumenical Council of Churches and by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
At the center of the Lutheran Cathedral of Riga, there is a baptismal font that dates back to the 12th Century, to the time when Latvia was evangelized by Saint Maynard. That font is an eloquent sign of an origin of faith recognized by all Christians of Latvia — Catholics, Lutherans and Orthodox. This origin is our common Baptism. The Second Vatican Council affirmed: “Baptism constitutes the sacramental bond of the unity in force among all those that have been regenerated through it” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 22). The First Letter of Peter is addressed to the first generation of Christians, to make them aware of the gift received in Baptism and of the demands that it entails. In this Week of Prayer, we are also invited to rediscover all this, and to do so together, going beyond our divisions.
First of all, to share in Baptism, means that we are all sinners and are in need of being saved, redeemed, liberated from evil. This is the negative aspect, which the First Letter of Peter calls “darkness” when he says, “[God] has called you out of darkness to lead you into His marvelous light.” This is the experience of death, which Christ made His own, and which is symbolized in Baptism. We affirm that all of us — Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox — share the experience of being called from the merciless and alienating darkness to the encounter with the living God, full of mercy. All of us, unfortunately, experience egoism, which generates division, closure and contempt. To begin again from Baptism means to rediscover the font of mercy, font of hope for all, because no one is excluded from God’s mercy.
The sharing of this grace creates an indissoluble bond among us Christians, so that, in virtue of Baptism, we can really consider ourselves brothers. We are really the holy People of God, even if, because of our sins, we are yet not a fully united people. God’s mercy, which operates in Baptism, is stronger than our divisions. In the measure in which we receive the grace of mercy, we become ever more fully People of God, and we also become capable to proclaim to all His wonderful works, beginning, in fact, from a simple and fraternal witness of unity. We Christians can proclaim to all the strength of the Gospel, committing ourselves to share the works of corporal and spiritual mercy. And this is a concrete witness of unity among us Christians: Protestants, Orthodox and Catholics.
In conclusion, dear brothers and sisters, all of us Christians, through the grace of Baptism, have obtained mercy from God and have been received in His People. All of us, Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants form a royal priesthood and a holy nation. This means that we have a common mission, which is to transmit the mercy [we’ve] received to others, beginning with the poorest and most abandoned. During the Week of Prayer, we pray that all of us, disciples of Christ, will find the way to collaborate together to bring the Father’s mercy to all parts of the world.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
Greeting in Italian:
I address a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the members of the Penelope Association, of the Delta Society and of the Confesercenti. I greet the parish groups, the Ugandan youngsters of the Africa Mission Movement and the students of the Bossey Ecumenical University Institute on a study visit to Rome. I wish for us all that the celebration of the Jubilee, with the crossing of the Holy Door, will convert our hearts and open them to love of God and of brothers.
A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity reminds us that, through Baptism, all believers in Christ are part of the People of God. Dear young people, pray that all Christians may become increasingly one great family; dear sick, offer your sufferings for the cause of the unity of the Church of Christ; and you, newlyweds, cultivate merciful and gratuitous love as God has for us.[Original text: Italian][Translation by ZENIT]