(Vatican Radio) The power of Baptism urges Christians proclaim Christ courageously
and without reserve: this was the focus of Pope Francis’s homily on Wednesday morning
in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, with employees of the Institute for the
Works of Religion – commonly called the Vatican Bank. The Pope's homily was inspired
by the Acts of the Apostles, in which we read of how the first Christian community
in Jerusalem suffered severe persecution in the wake of the martyrdom of St. Stephen.
He spoke of the many faithful, who fled in Judea and Samaria, and there began to proclaim
the Gospel, even though they were alone, without priests, because the Apostles were
in Jerusalem: Listen:
“They left their homes,” he said, “they brought with them only few belongings:, and going from place to place proclaiming the Word. “They carried with them the wealth they had: the faith.” That, said Pope Francis, is, “The wealth that the Lord had given them. They were a simple faithful, baptized just a year or so - butut they had the courage to go and proclaim. And people believed them! [Their preaching] worked miracles.“
Pope Francis noted how those early Christians had nothing but, “the power of baptism” that “gave them [their] apostolic courage, the strength of the Spirit.” The Pope went on to say, “I think of us, the baptized: do we really have this strength – and I wonder – do we really believe in this? Is Baptism enough? Is it sufficient for evangelization? Or do we rather ‘hope’ that the priest should speak, that the bishop might speak ... and what of us? Then, the grace of baptism is somewhat closed, and we are locked in our thoughts, in our concerns. Or sometimes think: ‘No, we are Christians, I was baptized, I made Confirmation, First Communion ... I have my identity card alright. And now, go to sleep quietly, you are a Christian. But where is this power of the Spirit that carries us forward?”
Pope Francis said we need to be, “faithful to the Spirit, to proclaim Jesus with our lives, through our witness and our words”:
When we do this, the Church becomes a mother church that produces children [and more] children, because we, the children of the Church, we carry that. But when we do not, the Church is not the mother, but the babysitter, that takes care of the baby – to put the baby to sleep. It is a Church dormant. Let us reflect on our Baptism, on the responsibility of our Baptism.
The Pope recalled the persecutions in Japan in the 17th century, when the Catholic missionaries were expelled and Christian communities remained for 200 years without priests. On their return, the missionaries found “all communities in place, everyone baptized, everyone catechized, all married in the Church,” Thanks to the work of the baptized:
There is a great responsibility for us, the baptized: to proclaim Christ, to carry the Church - this fruitful motherhood of the Church – forward. Being a Christian does not mean making a career in study to become a lawyer or a Christian doctor, no. Being a Christian ... is a gift that makes us go forward with the power of the Spirit the proclamation of Jesus Christ. "
Finally, the Pope said that Mary, during the persecution of the first Christians, “prayed so much” and animated those who were baptized to go forward with courage:
We ask the Lord for the grace to become courageous baptized [Christians], confident that the Spirit we have in us, [which we] received through Baptism, always drives us to proclaim Jesus Christ with our lives, through our witness and also with our words. So be it.”