As customary, prior to the start of the Wednesday audience, the Holy Father went around the square in an open-top SUV waving to the faithful, while kissing and blessing the babies brought up to him. The Pope even placed a pacifier on a crying baby’s mouth who was brought to the Holy Father to bless.
Pope Francis continued from last week’s audience on the resurrection, this time focusing on it’s “salvific significance.” The Holy Father told the pilgrims gathered that the foundation of faith rests on the death and resurrection of Christ, much like a house. “If these give way,” the Pope said, “the whole house collapses.”
“On the cross, Jesus offered himself, taking upon himself our sins and descending into the abyss of death, and in the Resurrection he conquers, he takes [our sins] away and opens the path for us to be reborn to a new life.”
Reflecting on the reading from the First Letter of Peter, Pope Francis said that with the resurrection of Christ, “we are freed from the slavery of sin” which is realized in all Christians through the sacrament of baptism.
The Holy Father spoke of the ancient method of Baptism, through immersion, where the person who is to be baptized descends into a large basin and has water poured on them three times by the bishop or priest. The white garment worn by the newly baptized person coming out of the font, signified the neophyte’s birth into a new life, thus becoming “a son of God.”
St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans writes: you have received a spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba! Father!”(Rom 8:15). It is the Spirit that we have received in baptism that teaches us, it urges us, to say to God: “Father”, or better, “Abba!”, which means “dad”,” Pope Francis said.
“This is our God: He is a dad for us. The Holy Spirit produces in us this new condition of being sons of God. And this is the greatest gift that we receive from the Paschal mystery of Jesus. And God treats us as children, He understands us, forgives us, embraces us and loves us even when we make mistakes. Already in the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah said that even if a mother could forget her child, God never forgets us, ever. And this is beautiful!”
The Dignity of God’s Children
The relationship with God as a father with a child, the Pope stressed must be nourished daily through prayer, listening to the Word of God and participation in the sacraments. Such nourishment allows us to live as children of God.
“And this is our dignity – we have the dignity of children - To behave as true children!” the Pope exclaimed.
This means that every day we must let Christ transform us and make us like him; it means trying to live as Christians, trying to follow him, even if we see our limitations and weaknesses. The temptation is always there to leave God aside in order put to ourselves at the center and the experience of sin wounds our Christian life, our being sons of God.”
“For this,” he continued, “we must have the courage of faith, and not allow ourselves to be guided by that mentality that says to us: ‘God is useless, he's not important for you.’ It is the exact opposite: it is only by acting like children of God, without getting discouraged because of our falls, because of our sins, feeling loved by Him, that our lives will be new, animated by serenity and joy. God is our strength! God is our hope!”
The Holy Father concluded his catechesis by calling on the faithful to give a witness to the risen Christ not only by announcing the Word, but also through one’s life. “ Let us manifest the joy of being children of God, the freedom that living in Christ gives, he who is the true freedom, freedom from the slavery of evil, sin and death!” the Pope said.
Pope Francis greeted various groups present, in particular, a group from the St. Lawrence Athletic Club of his native Argentina. The Holy Father has been a member of the soccer club since 2008. The Pope greeted the members warmly, saying: “Ah, this is very important.”
Concluding his general audience, Pope Francis made an appeal to the victims of the earthquake that struck southern Iran, calling on the faithful to pray “for all these brothers and sisters in Iran.”