Dear sisters, dear brothers!
I extend a warm welcome to all of you, members of the Finnish Ecumenical Delegation. Thank you because you have come to Rome this year to celebrate the feast of Saint Henry with an even more ecumenical accent: I am really happy to welcome representatives not only of Lutherans and Catholics, but also of Orthodox and Methodists. Dear Sister, I am grateful for your cordial words and for the condolences expressed for the death of my predecessor Benedict XVI. I am also grateful for what he evoked as suggestive through the image of the Baltic Sea, source of life threatened by the action of man, place of encounter which suffers painfully from the climate of conflict provoked by the ferocity madness of war. War is always a defeat, always.
I especially like to repeat what you told us about the waters, which remind us Christians of the gift of reconciliation received in baptism. We have just celebrated the Baptism of the Lord. The Son of God, by immersing himself in the waters of the Jordan at the beginning of his public ministry, manifested the will to immerse himself completely in our human condition. And we, baptized into Christ, by pure grace, have been immersed in him: this is why we call ourselves and are sons of God in his image, brothers and sisters among ourselves. Having received the one baptism, as believers, we are therefore called above all to give thanks because, from the waters of baptism, our existence has been reconciled with God, with others, with creation. We are reconciled sons and we are therefore called to reconcile more and more among ourselves, and to be artisans of reconciliation in the world.
It is beautiful to see all this during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In this one, reciting together the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, we profess “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins”, but this year we also reflect on certain words taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah: “Learn to do good , seek justice” (Is 1:17).
We thus hear the echo of our baptism which calls us, as justified by grace, to carry out works of justice gratuitously, to practice concrete gestures of closeness towards those who are victims of injustice, rejection, various forms of oppression and above all wars. As witnesses of faith in Christ, who immersed himself in the fragility of our human condition, we are therefore bound to immerse ourselves in the wounds of those in need. And do it together.
In the community of all the baptized, we know in fact that we are united among ourselves, here and now, with each sister and brother in Christ, but also with our mothers and fathers in faith who lived before us. From the perfect communion of Heaven, they look at us and invite us to walk together on this earth. Saint Henry, witness to faith, messenger of hope and instrument of charity, is one of them. With him we celebrate the ecumenical communion of all saints, known and unknown, born to new life from the waters of Baptism. We can therefore embrace at the same time with our gaze the original grace of baptism and the objective of eternal life; the source of life which on earth has made us sons of Heaven and Heaven where the saints await us and encourage us. In all, we recognize how great is the unity that unites us and how important it is to pray together, to work assiduously and to dialogue intensely to overcome divisions and to be, according to the will of the Lord, one thing in the Trinitarian communion. , so that the world may believe (cf. Jn 17:21).
We are certainly aware of this, but awareness alone is not enough. It is necessary to nurture a real passion, a passion that springs from love for communion, from the desire to overcome the counter-witness given by the historic divisions between Christians, which have so wounded the unity of the Body of Christ. It takes, especially today, an ardent zeal for evangelization, because by announcing together, we rediscover each other as brothers and sisters; and because we realize that we cannot worthily spread the name of Jesus, born, died and risen for all, without bearing witness to the beauty of unity, the distinctive sign of his disciples.
Dear friends, renewing my gratitude for your annual visit, always awaited and appreciated, I would like to ask today with you for the gift of this ardent passion so as not to tire us of loving, of hoping, of seeking those who are far, to burn within the desire to announce Jesus and to build the unity that he so desires. We ask for the gift of a renewed apostolic zeal, which will make us each time rediscover other believers as our brothers and sisters in Christ, which will make us feel apostles reconciled by God to reconcile us among ourselves and to become artisans of reconciliation for the world. This is why I would now like to invite you to recite together the Our Father, the prayer of children which, better than any other, manifests the reality of our baptism. We can pray to her each in his own language, but together: with each other and for each other.