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Gratitude to God should expand hearts, lead to hospitality, pope says

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Every Christian should be grateful for the gift of his or her baptism, and that gratitude should draw them together to recognize that they are brothers and sisters and called to pursue holiness together, Pope Francis said.

Welcoming an ecumenical pilgrimage from Finland to the Vatican Jan. 17, Pope Francis told the Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox and other Christian leaders that all Christians are called "to witness to the good news in the midst of their daily life."

Hospitality to the stranger and to those in need is a particularly strong form of witness, the pope said on the eve of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, celebrated Jan. 18-25.

The theme chosen for this year’s commemoration is "They showed us unusual kindness," a quote from St. Paul, writing about the experience of being shipwrecked in Malta.

"As baptized Christians, we believe that Christ wishes to meet us precisely in those who are — whether literally or figuratively — shipwrecked in life," Pope Francis told his guests. "Those who show hospitality grow richer, not poorer. Whoever gives, receives in return."

The gratitude Christians feel for the gift of baptism "links and expands our hearts, and opens them to our neighbor, who is not an adversary but our beloved brother, our beloved sister," the pope said.

 

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