By Susan Gately - 16 November, 2013
Pontiff urges pilgrims to look up the date of their baptism and celebrate it.
Departing a number of times from his prepared script, the Pope taught and entertained the crowd, asking them questions and interacting with them.
Continuing his reflection on the articles of the Creed, this week Pope Francis was highlighting the words: “I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of Sins.”
The Pope broke up the sentence into its three parts: “I believe”, “in one baptism”, and “for the forgiveness of sins”.
By proclaiming “I believe”, said the Holy Father, “we affirm our true identity as sons of God”. At the same time, “Baptism is linked to our faith in the remission of sins. The sacrament of confession is, like a ‘second baptism’.
Confession is not a “torture chamber” it is a celebration of the day of baptism, he said.
Pope Francis described baptism as “the act of birth of a Christian in the Church”. He asked the pilgrims present at the audience to raise their hands if they remembered, as well as their birthdays, the date of their baptism. Few did, so he urged them to find out when they returned home what date they were baptised and to celebrate it to commemorate the act of birth into the Church.
The pope explained that “baptism” literally meant “immersion”.
“It is a spiritual immersion. Where? In the pool? No it is immersion in the death of Christ, from which we rise with him as new creatures,” he said.
He asked the pilgrims, “Is baptism just something relating to my past or is it a living reality? Do you feel illuminated by that light that comes from Christ, or are you a ‘dark’ person, without the light of Jesus?”
“To take the gift of baptism, is to become light for everyone,” he said.
Finally on the subject of “forgiveness of sins”, Pope Francis said that baptism took all sins away, but this did not take away our weakness.
“We are all weak. We are all sinners. We have to ask forgiveness each time we make mistake.”
He continued, “I can’t be baptised twice, three or four times, but I can go to confession and when I go I renew that grace of baptism, it is as if I had a second baptism.” He stressed that “Jesus never tires” of forgiving people.
He concluded, “Listen! Baptism opens the door to the Church … but when the door narrows a little because of our weaknesses or our sins, confession helps us to open it because it is like a second baptism, which forgives us all and enlightens us, helping us to go ahead joyfully in the light of the Lord. Because life is about living in the joy of Jesus Christ and it is a grace from the Lord.”
After his reflection, the Pope renewed his appeal for an end to the tragedy in Syria and said he was praying for the people of the Philippines.
“In these days we are praying and uniting our strength to help our brothers and sisters in the Philippines, struck by the typhoon. These are the real battles that must be fought. For life, never for death!”