On the Feast of the Holy Family

“Family of Nazareth, Expert in Suffering, Give Peace to the World”

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI’s address last Sunday, feast of the Holy Family, before and after the praying of the midday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. He gave the address in Spanish and Italian.

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Dear brothers and sisters:

On this Sunday that follows the birth of the Lord, we celebrate with joy the Holy Family of Nazareth. The context is more than adequate, since Christmas is the feast of the family, par excellence. So many traditions and social customs demonstrate this, especially that of gathering together, in family, for the festive meals and the congratulations and the interchange of gifts. And, how can we not see that in these circumstances, the discontent and the sorrow caused by family strife is amplified?

Jesus wanted to be born and grow up in a human family; he wanted the Virgin Mary to be his mom and Joseph to fulfill the role of father. They raised and educated him with immense love. Jesus’ family truly merits the title of “holy,” since it is entirely focused on the desire of fulfilling the will of God, incarnated in the adorable presence of Jesus. In one sense it is a family like all others, and as such, it is a model of conjugal love, collaboration, sacrifice, confidence in divine providence, a spirit of work and solidarity. Certainly, it presents all these values that the family protects and promotes, contributing in a basic sense to form the fabric of every society.

At the same time, though, the family of Nazareth is unique, different from all others, because of its singular vocation, linked to the mission of the Son of God. Precisely because of its unique character, it presents to every family, and in the first place to Christian families, the horizon of God, the sweet and demanding priority of his will, the perspective of heaven, to which we are destined.

For all of this, today let us give thanks to God, like the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, who with such faith and willingness cooperated in the Lord’s plan of salvation.

To express the beauty and the value of the family, today thousands of people have gathered in Madrid. To them, I want to address myself in Spanish:

I offer now a cordial greeting to the participants who are gathered in Madrid in this intimate gathering to pray for the family and to commit oneself to work in favor of the family with strength and hope. The family is certainly a grace from God, which reveals what he, himself, is: love. A love that is entirely gratuitous, that sustains fidelity without limits, even in the moments of difficulty or dejection.

These qualities are incarnated in an eminent way in the Holy Family, in which Jesus came to the world and grew and filled himself with wisdom, with the exquisite care of Mary and the faithful guardianship of St. Joseph.

Dear families, do not allow the love, openness to life, and the incomparable bonds that unite your homes to be spoiled. Ask this constantly of the Lord, pray together, so that your resolutions are enlightened by faith and extolled by divine grace in the path toward sanctity.

In this way, with the joy of your sharing everything in love, you will give to the world a beautiful testimony of how important the family is for the human being and for society. The Pope is at your side, praying especially to the Lord for those in each family who have greatest need of health, work, consolation and company. In this prayer of the Angelus, I entrust all of you to our Mother in heaven, the most holy Virgin Mary.

Dear brothers and sisters, speaking of the family, I cannot fail to recall that from the 14th to 18th of January, 2009, the 6th World Meeting of Families will take place in Mexico City. Let us pray starting now for this important ecclesial event and entrust to the Lord every family, especially those most tried by the difficulties of life and the wounds of misunderstanding and division. May the Redeemer, born in Bethlehem, give to all the serenity and the strength to walk united in the path of good.

[After praying the Angelus, the Pope continued:]

Dear brothers and sisters:

The Holy Land, which in these days of Christmas is in the center of the thoughts and the affections of the faithful of every part of the world, finds itself again jolted by an explosion of unparalleled violence. I am deeply bereaved for those who have died and the wounded, by the material damages, the suffering and the tears of the populations that are victims of this tragic chain of attacks and retaliation.

Jesus’ homeland cannot continue to be witness of so much bloodshed, which continues endlessly! I implore an end to the violence, which must be condemned in every one of its manifestations, and the re-establishment of the truce in the Gaza Strip. I ask for a show of humanity and wisdom from all those who have responsibility in the situation. I implore the international community to do everything possible to help Israelis and Palestinians to get out of this dead-end street and to not resign themselves — as I said a few days ago in the “urbi et orbi” message — to the perverse logic of confrontation and violence, but rather to give priority to the path of dialogue and negotiation.

Let us entrust to Jesus, Prince of Peace, our fervent prayer for these intentions, and to him, to Mary and Joseph, let us implore: “Family of Nazareth, expert in suffering, give peace to the world.” Give peace today above all to the Holy Land!

[Translation by ZENIT] [The Holy Father then greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims at this Angelus. Today we recall how Mary and Joseph, after presenting Jesus in the temple, took the child to Nazareth and began their life as a family. May all families strive to imitate their faith, hope and charity, so as to bear greater witness to the singular importance of the “domestic church” for the life of the universal Church and for society. God bless you all!

© Copyright 2008 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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