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Sunday, December 27, 2015

0442: Reflections on the Feast of the Holy Family by Pope Francis



Entry 0442: Reflections on the Feast of the Holy Family 

by Pope Francis (Updated) 




On 
three occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the feast of the Holy Family on 29 December 2013, 28 December 2014, and 27 December 2015. Here are the texts of three reflections prior to the recitation of the Angelus and a homily that the Holy Father delivered on these occasions.


FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 29 December 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

On this first Sunday after Christmas, the Liturgy invites us to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Indeed, every nativity scene shows us Jesus together with Our Lady and St Joseph in the grotto of Bethlehem. God wanted to be born into a human family, he wanted to have a mother and father like us.

And today the Gospel presents the Holy Family to us on the sorrowful road of exile, seeking refuge in Egypt. Joseph, Mary and Jesus experienced the tragic fate of refugees, which is marked by fear, uncertainty and unease (see Mt 2:13-15; 19-23). Unfortunately, in our own time, millions of families can identify with this sad reality. Almost every day the television and papers carry news of refugees fleeing from hunger, war and other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and for their families.

In distant lands, even when they find work, refugees and immigrants do not always find a true welcome, respect and appreciation for the values they bring. Their legitimate expectations collide with complex and difficult situations which at times seem insurmountable. Therefore, as we fix our gaze on the Holy Family of Nazareth as they were forced to become refugees, let us think of the tragedy of those migrants and refugees who are victims of rejection and exploitation, who are victims of human trafficking and of slave labor. But let us also think of the other “exiles:” I would call them “hidden exiles,” those exiles who can be found within their own families: the elderly for example who are sometimes treated as a burdensome presence. I often think that a good indicator for knowing how a family is doing is seeing how their children and elderly are treated.

Jesus wanted to belong to a family who experienced these hardships, so that no one would feel excluded from the loving closeness of God. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threat shows us that God is present where man is in danger, where man is suffering, where he is fleeing, where he experiences rejection and abandonment; but God is also present where man dreams, where he hopes to return in freedom to his homeland and plans and chooses life for his family and dignity for himself and his loved ones.

Today our gaze on the Holy Family lets us also be drawn into the simplicity of the life they led in Nazareth. It is an example that does our families great good, helping them increasingly to become communities of love and reconciliation, in which tenderness, mutual help, and mutual forgiveness is experienced. Let us remember the three key words for living in peace and joy in the family: “may I,” “thank you” and “sorry.” In our family, when we are not intrusive and ask “may I,” in our family when we are not selfish and learn to say “thank you,” and when in a family one realizes he has done something wrong and knows how to say “sorry,” in that family there is peace and joy. Let us remember these three words. Can we repeat them all together: may I, thank you, sorry. (Everyone: may I, thank you, sorry!) I would also like to encourage families to become aware of the importance they have in the Church and in society. The proclamation of the Gospel, in fact, first passes through the family to reach the various spheres of daily life.

Let us fervently call upon Mary Most Holy, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, and St Joseph her spouse. Let us ask them to enlighten, comfort and guide every family in the world, so that they may fulfill with dignity and peace the mission which God has entrusted to them.


FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 28 December 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

On this first Sunday after Christmas, while we are still immersed in the joyous climate of celebration, the Church calls us to contemplate the Holy Family of Nazareth. The Gospel today presents Our Lady and St Joseph at the time when, 40 days after Jesus’ birth, they go to the temple in Jerusalem. They do so in religious obedience to the Law of Moses, which requires that the first born son be presented to the Lord (see Lk 2:22-24).

We can imagine this tiny family, in the midst of so many people, in the temple’s grand courtyards. They do not stand out, they are not distinguishable. Yet they do not pass unnoticed! Two elderly people, Simeon and Anna, moved by the Holy Spirit, approach and praise God for that Child, in whom they recognize the Messiah, the light of the people and the salvation of Israel ( see Lk 2:22-38). It is a simple moment but rich with prophecy: the encounter between two young spouses full of joy and faith due to the grace of the Lord; and two elderly people also filled with joy and faith through the action of the Spirit. Who causes them to meet? Jesus. Jesus makes them meet: young and old. Jesus is He who brings generations closer. He is the font of that love which unites families and people, conquering all diffidence, all isolation, all distance. This causes us to also think of grandparents: how important their presence is, the presence of grandparents! How precious their role is in the family and in society! A good relationship between the young and the elderly is crucial for the journey of the civil and ecclesial community. Looking at these two elderly people—Simeon and Anna—let us greet from here, with applause, all the worlds’ grandparents.

The message that comes from the Holy Family is first of all a message of faith. In the family life of Mary and Joseph, God is truly at the centre, and He is so in the Person of Jesus. This is why the Family of Nazareth is holy. Why? Because it is centered on Jesus.

When parents and children together breathe in this climate of faith, they have an energy that allows them to face even difficult trials, as the experience of the Holy Family shows, for example, in the dramatic event of their flight to Egypt: a difficult ordeal.

The Baby Jesus with his Mother Mary and with St Joseph are a simple but so luminous icon of the family. The light it casts is the light of mercy and salvation for all the world, the light of truth for every man, for the human family and for individual families. This light which comes from the Holy Family encourages us to offer human warmth in those family situations in which, for various reasons, peace is lacking, harmony is lacking, and forgiveness is lacking. May our concrete solidarity not diminish especially with regard to the families who are experiencing more difficult situations due to illness, unemployment, discrimination, the need to emigrate. Let us pause here for a moment and pray in silence for all these families in difficulty, whether due to problems of illness, unemployment, discrimination, need to emigrate, due to difficulty in understanding each other and also to disunion. Let us pray in silence for all these families:

(Hail Mary, full of grace, ...)

Let us entrust to Mary, Queen and mother of the family, all the families of the world, that they may live in faith, in accord, in reciprocal aid, and for this I invoke upon them the maternal protection of the One who was the mother and daughter of her Son.


FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 27 December 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

How well you children sing. Well done!

In the climate of joy which is truly that of Christmas, we celebrate this Sunday the Feast of the Holy Family. I am thinking again of the great meeting in Philadelphia this past September; of the many families I have met on my Apostolic Journeys; and of those throughout the world. I would like to greet you all with affection and gratitude especially in our time, in which the family is subject to various kinds of misunderstanding and difficulty which weaken it.

Today’s Gospel passage invites families to welcome the light of hope that comes from the home of Nazareth, in which Jesus’ childhood unfolded in joy. Jesus, says St Luke, “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (2:52). The nuclear family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is for each believer and especially for families an authentic school of the Gospel. Here we admire the fulfilment of the divine plan to make of the family a special community of life and love. Here we learn that every Christian nuclear family is called to be a “domestic church,” to make the Gospel virtues shine and become a leaven of good in society. The classic traits of the Holy Family are: reflection and prayer, mutual understanding and respect, and a spirit of sacrifice, work and solidarity.

From the exemplary witness of the Holy Family, each family can find precious guidance for the style and choices of life, and can draw strength and wisdom for each day’s journey. Our Lady and Joseph teach us to welcome children as a gift of God, to beget them and raise them, cooperating wonderfully in the work of the Creator and giving to the world, in each child, a new smile. It is in a united family that children bring their existence to maturity, living out the meaningful and effective experience of freely given love, tenderness, reciprocal respect, mutual understanding, forgiveness and joy.

I would like to pause above all on joy. The true joy which is experienced in the family is not something random and fortuitous. It is a joy produced by deep harmony among people, which allows them to savor the beauty of being together, of supporting each other on life’s journey. However, at the foundation of joy there is always the presence of God, his welcoming, merciful and patient love for all. If the door of the family is not open to the presence of God and to his love, then the family loses its harmony, individualism prevails, and joy is extinguished. Instead, the family which experiences joy—the joy of life, the joy of faith—communicates it spontaneously, is the salt of the earth, and light of the world, the leaven for all of society.

May Jesus, Mary and Joseph bless and protect all the families in the world, so that in them may reign the serenity and joy, the justice and peace which Christ by his Birth brought as a gift to humanity.


FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 27 December 2015

The biblical readings which we just heard presented us with the image of two families on pilgrimage to the house of God. Elkanah and Hannah bring their son Samuel to the Temple of Shiloh and consecrate him to the Lord (see 1 Sam 1:20-22, 24-28). In the same way, Joseph and Mary, in the company of Jesus, go as pilgrims to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover (see Lk 2:41-52).

We often see pilgrims journeying to shrines and places dear to popular piety. These days, many of them are making their way to the Holy Door opened in all the cathedrals of the world and in many shrines. But the most beautiful thing which emerges from the word of God today is that the whole family goes on pilgrimage. Fathers, mothers and children together go to the house of the Lord, in order to sanctify the holy day with prayer. It is an important teaching, which is meant for our own families as well. Indeed, we could say that family life is a series of pilgrimages, both small and big.

For example, how comforting it is for us to reflect on Mary and Joseph teaching Jesus how to pray! This is a sort of pilgrimage, the pilgrimage of education in prayer. And it is comforting also to know that throughout the day they would pray together, and then go each Sabbath to the synagogue to listen to readings from the Law and the Prophets, and to praise the Lord with the assembly. Certainly, during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, they prayed by singing the Psalm: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’ Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem” (122:1-2).

How important it is for our families to journey together towards a single goal! We know that we have a road to travel together; a road along which we encounter difficulties but also enjoy moments of joy and consolation. And on this pilgrimage of life we also share in moments of prayer. What can be more beautiful than for a father and mother to bless their children at the beginning and end of each day, to trace on their forehead the sign of the cross, as they did on the day of their baptism? Is this not the simplest prayer which parents can offer for their children? To bless them, that is, to entrust them to the Lord, just like Elkanah and Anna, Joseph and Mary, so that he can be their protection and support throughout the day. In the same way, it is important for families to join in a brief prayer before meals, in order to thank the Lord for these gifts and to learn how to share what we have received with those in greater need. These are all little gestures, yet they point to the great formative role played by the family in the pilgrimage of every day life.

At the end of that pilgrimage, Jesus returned to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents (see Lk 2:51). This image also contains a beautiful teaching about our families. A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience. We know what Jesus did on that occasion. Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him. For this little “escapade,” Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents. The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it. Mary’s question, moreover, contains a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt. Returning home, Jesus surely remained close to them, as a sign of his complete affection and obedience. Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience.

In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them. How miserable we would be if God did not forgive us! Within the family we learn how to forgive, because we are certain that we are understood and supported, whatever the mistakes we make.

Let us not lose confidence in the family! It is beautiful when we can always open our hearts to one another, and hide nothing. Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness. To all of you, dear families, I entrust this most important mission—the domestic pilgrimage of daily family life—which the world and the Church need, now more than ever. 

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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For reflections on the Feast of the Holy Family 

 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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