By Vatican News
Meeting in the Vatican with an ecumenical delegation from Finland on Friday, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of journeying in communion of faith “so as to encourage one another and to strengthen one another in Christian discipleship”.
The Feast of Saint Henrik
The group was in Rome as part of a customary ecumenical pilgrimage celebrating the feast of Saint Henrik, believed to have been an English-born Bishop of Uppsala who was martyred in the mid-12th century. He is venerated by Catholics and Lutherans, as well as several Protestant Churches and the Anglican Community.
Baptism and bearing common burdens
Reminding those present of how this past Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus, Pope Francis recalled our own baptism. “A Christian is someone who can give thanks for his or her baptism, and this gratitude unites us within the community of all the baptized”, he said.
The Pope also referred to the Report of the Catholic-Lutheran dialogue group for Sweden and Finland, entitled Justification in the Life of the Church, which observes that “as members of one and the same mystical body of Christ, Christians are bound to one another and must bear one another’s burdens”.
Hospitality and Christian Unity
Pope Francis then looked ahead to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that begins on Saturday, with the theme “They showed us unusual kindness”. The words are those of the Apostle Paul, and refer “to the inhabitants of the island of Malta, who received him, together with hundreds of shipwrecked people, with hospitality”, explained the Pope.
“As baptized Christians, we believe that Christ wishes to meet us precisely in those who are – whether literally or figuratively – shipwrecked in life”, said Pope Francis. “Those who show hospitality grow richer, not poorer. Whoever gives, receives in return. For the humanity we show to others makes us in a mysterious way partakers in the goodness of the God who became man”.
Journeying and standing together
Pope Francis confirmed how “we are journeying together in the community of all the baptized”. The gratitude that Christians give for their baptism “links and expands our hearts”, he said, it “opens them to our neighbour, who is not an adversary but our beloved brother, our beloved sister”.
“The community of all the baptized is not a mere ‘standing beside one another’, and certainly not a ‘standing against one other’”, concluded the Pope, “but wants to become an ever fuller ‘standing together’”.