Pope Francis reminds us that God never denies his children
Baptism leaves a mark on our souls that cannot be erased — an indelible spiritual seal — and not even the most horrific sin can erase it.
Pope Francis reflected on this certainty as he continued today his general audience series on baptism.
“Reborn as children of God, we are thus his children for ever! Indeed, Baptism is not repeated, because it imprints an indelible spiritual seal,” he said, citing the Catechism #1272: “‘No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.’”
The worst sinners carry this seal “for shame,” the pope said, being a son of God who does those things, but still the seal does not go away.
“The seal of Baptism is never lost! “Father, but if a person becomes a brigand, one of the most notorious, who kills people, who is unjust, doesn’t the seal go away?”. No. For shame the son of God who is that man does those things, but the seal does not go away.”
“And he continues to be a son of God, he who goes against God, but God never denies His children,” Francis said, then asking the crowd if they had allowed that last statement to sink in.
“Shall we repeat this together? ‘God never denies His children [the crowd repeats].’”
“A bit louder,” the pope called, “as either I am deaf or I did not understand. [They repeat more loudly] ‘God never denies His children.’ There, that is good.”
The Bishop of Rome spoke of the beauty of this sacrament, which makes us irrevocably into God’s children:
The baptismal font is the place in which one experiences the Pasch with Christ! The former man is buried, with his deceitful passions (cf. Eph 4: 22), so that a new creature can be reborn; truly the old things are past and new ones are born (cf. 2 Cor 5: 17). The “Catecheses” attributed to Saint Cyril of Jerusalem thus explain to the newly baptized what happens in the water of Baptism. It is beautiful, this explanation by Saint Cyril: “In the same instant, you died and were born, and the same salutary wave became for you both tomb and mother” (no. 20, Mystagogy 2, 4-6; PG 33, 1079-1082).
The rebirth of the new man demands that the man corrupted by sin be reduced to dust. The images of the tomb and the maternal womb used to speak of the font are indeed very incisive for expressing the great thing that happens through the simple gestures of Baptism.
I like to cite the inscription in the ancient Roman baptistery of Saint John Lateran, where we read in Latin this expression attributed to Pope Sixtus III: “The Mother Church virginally gives birth by water to the children conceived by the breath of God. Those of you reborn by this font, hope in the Kingdom of Heaven”. It is beautiful: the Church gives us birth, the Church who is the womb, our mother, through Baptism.