On the Holy Family

Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address before and after the recitation of the Angelus today to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

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

And today the Gospel presents the Holy Family traveling the sorrowful road of exile, in search of refuge in Egypt. Joseph, Mary and Jesus experience the dramatic fate of refugees, with the fear, uncertainty and uneasiness it brings (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23). Unfortunately, in our time, millions of families can encounter this sad reality. Almost every day the television and the newspapers cay news about refugees who flee from hunger, from war, from other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and their families.

In distant lands, even when they find work, refugees and immigrants do not always meet with true welcome, respect, appreciation of the values which they bring with them. Their legitimate expectations conflict with complex situations and difficulties that sometimes seem insuperable. So, when we fix our gaze upon the Holy Family of Nazareth in the moment that they become refugees, we think about the drama of those grants and refugees who are victims of rejection and exploitation, who are victims of human trafficking and slave labor. But let us also think about the other “exiles”: I would call them “hidden exiles,” those exiles that can be within our own family: the elderly, for example, who are sometimes treated as an inconvenience. I often think that an indicator of how a family is doing is how the children and old people in the family are treated.

Jesus wanted to belong to a family that experienced these hardships, so that no one would feel excluded from the loving presence of God. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threats shows us that God is present where man is in danger, there where man suffers, there where he flees, where he experiences rejection and abandonment; but God is also there where man dreams, where he hopes to return to freedom in his homeland, plans and decides about his life and dignity and those of his family.

Today our contemplation of the Holy Family lets itself be drawn also by the simplicity of the life they lead at Nazareth. It is an example that is very good for our families, it helps them further to become communities of love and reconciliation in which tenderness, mutual help and reciprocal forgiveness are experienced. Let us remember the 3 key phrases for a life of peace and joy in the family: excuse me, thank you, I’m sorry. In a family when you are not intrusive but say “excuse me,” when you are not self-centered but say “thank you,” and when you realize that you have done something wrong and you say “I’m sorry,” in that family there is peace and joy. Let us remember these 3 phrases. But we can say them all together: excuse me, thank you, I’m sorry. (The people gathered in St. Peter’s Square then repeated the words after the Holy Father.) I would also like families to be aware of their importance in the Church and in society. The proclamation of the Gospel, in fact, passes first of all through families to then reach the different spheres of daily life.

Let us fervently invoke Mary Most Holy, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, and St. Joseph her husband. Let us ask them to enlighten, to comfort, to guide every family in the world so that they may carry out the mission that God has entrusted to them with dignity and serenity.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said a prayer to the Holy Family and then greeted the people gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

The upcoming consistory and Synod of Bishops will deal with the topic of the family, and the preparatory phase started some time ago. Because of this, today, the feast of the Holy Family, I would like to entrust the synodal work to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, praying for the families of the whole word. I invite you to join spiritually with me in the prayer that I now recite:

Prayer to the Holy Family

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

in you we contemplate

the splendor of true love,

we turn to you in trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

make our families too

places of communion and cenacles of prayer,

authentic schools of the Gospel

and little domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may violence, closure and division

never again be experienced in families;

may whoever has been wounded or scandalized

soon be consoled and healed.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may the coming Synod of Bishops

reawaken in everyone the consciousness

of the sacred and inviolable character of the family,

its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

hear and grant our supplication. Amen.

I offer a special greeting to the faithful with whom we are connected by video: in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, where the general secretary of the Synod of Bishops is present; in the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, where the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family is present; in the Basilica Shrine of the Holy House in Loreto. And I extend this greeting to those gathered in various parts of the world for other celebrations of the family, such as the one in Madrid.

Finally, I greet with affection all of the pilgrims present here, especially the families! I know that there are members of the Romanian community of Rome present. I greet thhe young people of the Focolari movement who have come from various countries, among whom are the groups from the Dioceses of Milan, Como, Lodi, Padua, Vicenza and Concordia-Pordenone. I greet the yooueople from Curno and Calcinate with their catechists; the faithful from Salcedo, Carzago Riviera, San Giovanni in Persiceto and Modica

I wish you all a beautiful feast of the Holy Family, a beautiful and good Sunday and a good lunch. Good bye!

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]
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