(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday resumed his General Audiences, after they were suspended during the month of July for a summer break.
The Holy Father once more took up the theme of Christian Hope, focusing on the Sacrament of Baptism, the Gateway of Hope.
In his catechesis, Pope Francis spoke about several aspects of the Baptismal liturgy. The older form of Baptism anticipated catechumens making the first part of their profession of faith turned to the west. After rejecting Satan, they turned to the apse, toward the east, where the sun rises, and professed their faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In our times, the Pope said, we have lost our fascination with this rite; we have lost our “sensitivity to the language of the cosmos.” But we have retained the significance of the rite: To be a Christian means “to look to the light, to continue to make the profession of faith in the light, even when the world is wrapped up in the night and in darkness”:
Christians, he said, are not exempt from darkness. “They do not live outside the world, but through the grace of Christ received in Baptism, they are men and women who are ‘oriented’: they do not believe in darkness, but in the brightness of the day; they do not succumb to the night, but hope in the dawn; they are not defeated by death, but are yearning to rise again; they are not bent down by evil, because they trust always in the infinite possibilities of goodness. And this is our Christian hope.”
The Pope also looked at the symbolism of the gift of a candle during the Baptism ceremony. The candle is lit from the Paschal candle, and recalls the Easter vigil liturgy when the light goes out from the Paschal candle to all the individual candles, and the whole Church is illuminated. The life of the Church, the Pope said – using a strong expression – is a kind of “contamination” by the light of Christ, which is spread from one to another. “The more of the light of Jesus that we have as Christians, the more of the light of Jesus there is in the life of the Church, and the more the Church lives.”
Finally Pope Francis gave the faithful a kind of “homework assignment.” He asked those present to remember the day of their Baptism, “which is the date of your rebirth, it is the date of the light, it is the date in which…we were contaminated by the light of Christ.”
“What a grace it is,” the Holy Father said in conclusion, “when a Christian truly becomes a ‘Christopher’,” a “bearer of Christ” in the world. “If we would be faithful to our Baptism, we would spread the light of hope – Baptism is the beginning of hope, that hope of God – and we would pass on to future generations reasons for life.”