Spending time interacting within the family is important, and therefore, togetherness shouldn’t be replaced by having phones out and televisions blasting.
Pope Francis stressed this during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square today, as he continued his catechesis on the family. Last week, he looked at the importance of the family as the place where we learn the value of forgiveness, and this week, he considered the importance of togetherness.
Togetherness, he pointed out, involves sharing together the good things of life with your loved ones and being happy to do so, and also sharing the difficult times, such as loss of a loved one.
The Holy Father began his catechesis pointing out that sitting at the table for the family dinner, and sharing our meal and the experiences of our day, is a fundamental image of togetherness and solidarity. He also said togetherness is a reliable “thermometer” to measure the “health” of the relationship.
He noted how if a relative has a struggle, speaking about it together at the table helps to find a solution.
“A family that almost never eats together, or is not at the table, but watching the TV or on their smartphones, is hardly a family,” he said, lamenting when “the children at the table are attached to the computer, to the phone and do not listen to each other.”
Since Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a meal, Pope Francis pointed out to those gathered, there is a close relationship between families and the Mass.
He went on to say that this togetherness we experience in our families is meant, in the family of the Church, to extend to all as a sign of God’s universal love. In this way, he observed, the Eucharist becomes a “school of inclusion,” where one learns to be attentive to the needs of everyone.
The Holy Father lamented that the family meal is disappearing in some societies, and that food itself, which represents our sharing with others, is often wasted, while brothers and sisters throughout the world go hungry.
Pope Francis concluded, praying that our families, and the entire Church be signs of togetherness and solidarity for the good of the whole human family, especially during the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, Dec. 8 – Nov. 20, 2016.