VATICAN CITY — All of the baptized and not just the clergy are called to spread the Gospel, even in times of persecution, Pope Francis said in his morning homily April 17.
The pope spoke at Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse where he has been living since his election in March, and where he has been regularly celebrating morning Mass for different groups of Vatican employees.
Speaking to a congregation of employees of the Vatican bank, Pope Francis commented on the day's reading from the Acts of Apostles (8:1-8), in which the early Christians scatter to escape a "severe persecution" and then go "about preaching the word."
"They left home, perhaps they brought a few things with them; they had no security but went from place to place announcing the Word," the pope said, according to Vatican Radio. "They are simple believers, baptized for only a year or maybe slightly longer. But they had the courage to go and announce. And they were believed. And they performed miracles."
Pope Francis also noted the history of Japanese Catholics, who survived without priests for two centuries after missionaries were expelled in the 17th century. When missionaries were finally permitted to return, the pope said, they found "all the communities in order, all baptized, all catechized, all married in the church."
The pope wondered aloud whether laypeople today have equal faith in the "strength of baptism."
"Do we believe in this? That baptism is enough -- sufficient to evangelize?" he asked.
All of the baptized must "announce Jesus with our life, with our witness and with our words," the pope said.
"When we do this, the church becomes a mother church that bears children," he said. "But when we don't do it, the church becomes not a mother but a baby sitter church, which takes care of the child to put him to sleep."