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Pope at Audience: Equality in Christ overcomes our differences

“The differences and contrasts that separation creates should not exist among believers in Christ."

Continuing his catechesis on the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians during the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis noted the apostle’s insistence to Christians not to forget the novelty of God’s revelation that had been proclaimed to them.

The Pope reflected on St. Paul’s emphasis on faith in Jesus which has allowed us to truly become children of God and His heirs. Therefore, Christians are to remember with gratitude the moment we became such – the moment of our baptism – “so as to live the great gift we have received with greater awareness.” (Read: A Sunday Prayer of Gratitude)

Faith makes us God’s children “in Christ”

Once “faith has come” in Jesus Christ, the Pope noted, “a radically new condition was created that leads to divine sonship.”

It is not a sonship involving all men and women insofar as they are sons and daughters of the same Creator; rather, faith allows us to be children of God “in Christ.”

Being Children of God “in Christ” thus, makes a difference, because through Jesus’ incarnation he became our brother, and by His death and resurrection, He has reconciled us to the Father. (Read: A Prayer to Keep Your Faith Stronger)

So, “anyone who accepts Christ in faith, has “put on” Christ and His filial dignity through baptism.”

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The baptismal water at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral to be used at the Easter Vigil April 15. (Photo from Billy Hardiman/Catholic Sun)

Baptism transforms us

Pope Francis further explained that for St. Paul, who made reference to baptism several times in his letters, “to be baptized was the same as taking part effectively and truly in the mystery of Jesus.”

In the Letter to the Romans, for example, Paul stated that in baptism we have died with Christ and have been buried with Him, so as to live with Him (Rom 6: 3-14)

Baptism, therefore, is not merely an “external rite.” Rather, those who receive it “are transformed deep within” and “possess new life” which allows them to turn to God and call Him with the name of “Abba, Father.”

The Holy Father, in this regard, encouraged Christians to find out their date of baptism and to celebrate it.

tagle-holds-baptism-of-filipinos-in-rome-to-celebrate-the-jubilee-year
Photo from Pexels

Baptism goes beyond differences

Speaking further, the Pope noted St. Paul’s audacious confirmation that the identity received with baptism is so new that it prevails over the differences that exist on the ethnic-religious level, beyond differences of Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female (Gal 3:28). (Read: Tagle Holds Baptism of Filipinos in Rome to Celebrate the Jubilee Year)

“For Paul to write to the Galatians that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek was equivalent to an authentic subversion in the ethnic-religious sphere,” the Pope explained, because by the fact of belonging to a chosen people, the Jew was privileged over the pagan.

Similarly, taking out the distinction between the “free” and “slaves” introduced a shocking perspective, as by law, “free citizens enjoyed all rights, while not even the human dignity of slaves was recognized.” Likewise, equality in Christ, which overcomes the social differences between the two sexes, “was revolutionary at the time” and “needs to be reaffirmed even today.”

In this way, St. Paul confirms the profound unity between all the baptized because every one of them is “a new creature in Christ.” Thus, every distinction is secondary to the dignity of being children of God who “creates a real and substantial equality.” (Read: Prayer for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord)

tagle-holds-baptism-of-filipinos-in-rome-to-celebrate-the-jubilee-year
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle baptizes two children at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome on April 11, 2021. (Photo from CBCP News)

Called to live as children of God

The Holy Father then highlighted that we are called  in a more positive way to live a new life that roots its foundational expression in being children of God, discovering the beauty of being “brothers and sisters among ourselves, because we have been united in Christ.”

“The differences and contrasts that separation creates should not exist among believers in Christ,” the Pope said. “Rather, our vocation is that of making concrete and evident the call to unity of the entire human race.”

In this manner, everything that exacerbates differences and causes discrimination no longer has any meaning, thanks to the salvation effected in Christ. (Read:

“What is important is that faith that operates according to the path of unity indicated by the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis concluded, adding that “our responsibility is that of journeying decisively on along this path.”

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Pope Francis’ general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Sept. 8, 2021. (Photo from Pablo Esparza/EWTN/ACI Group/Catholic News Agency)

Greetings for Ethiopian New Year

At the conclusion of the General Audience, Pope Francis had a special word of greeting for the people of Ethiopia, who will celebrate the beginning of the New Year – according to the Ethiopian calendar – on September 11.

“I extend my heartfelt and affectionate greeting to the Ethiopian people,” he said, “and especially to those who are suffering due to the ongoing conflict and the grave humanitarian situation it has cause.” (Read: Pope Francis Sends Greetings for Lunar New Year)

He added his hopes that the New Year “might be a time of fraternity and solidarity, in which we listen to the common desire for peace.”


Text by Benedict Mayaki, SJ for Vatican News

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