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Angelus Address: On the Feast of the Holy Family

‘The Family Is a Treasure: It Must Always Be Protected and Defended’

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gavDecember 30, 2018, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Before the Angelus:
 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, and the liturgy invites us to reflect on the experience of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, united by an intense love and animated by great trust in God. Today’s evangelical passage (Cf. Luke 2:41-52) recounts the journey of the family of Nazareth to Jerusalem, for the feast of Passover. However, on the return journey, the parents realized that their 12-year-old son was not in the caravan. After three days of searching and of fear, they found Him in the Temple, seated among the Doctors, intent on discussing with them. At the sight of the Son, Mary and Joseph “were astonished” (v. 48) and his Mother expressed their apprehension, saying: “Your father and I have been looking for you anxiously” (Ibid.). Astonishment — they “were astonished”and anxiety – “anxiously, your father and I” —  are the two elements on which I would like to call your attention: astonishment and anxiety.
In the family of Nazareth, astonishment never failed, not even in a dramatic moment as the loss of Jesus: it’s the capacity to be astonished in face of the gradual manifestation of the Son of God. It’s the same astonishment that struck the Doctors of the Temple, amazed at his understanding and his answers” (v. 47). But what is astonishment, what does it <mean> to be astonished? To be astonished and to marvel is the opposite of taking everything for granted; it’s the opposite of interpreting the reality that surrounds us, and the events of history, only according to our criteria. And a person who does this doesn’t know what marvel is, what astonishment is. To be astonished is to open oneself to others, to understand others’ reasons: this attitude is important to heal compromised relations between people, and it’s also indispensable to heal the open wounds in the realm of the family. When there are problems in families, we take it for granted that we are right and we close the door to the others. Instead, it’s necessary to think: “But what good does this person have?” And to marvel at this “good.” And this helps family unity. If you have problems in the family, think of the good things that your relative has with whom you have problems, and marvel at this. And this will help to heal family wounds.
The second element that I would like to take from the Gospel is the anxiety that Mary and Joseph felt when they couldn’t find Jesus. This anxiety manifests the centrality of Jesus in the Holy Family. The Virgin and her husband had received that Son, they protected Him and saw Him grow in age, wisdom, and grace in their midst, but He grew especially in their heart; and, little by little their affection and understanding grew in their relations with Him. See why the family of Nazareth is holy: because it was centered on Jesus; all Mary’s and Joseph’s attentions and solicitudes were directed to Him.
That anxiety they felt during the three days that Jesus was lost, should also be our anxiety when we are far from Him when we are far from Jesus. We should feel anxious when we forget Jesus for more than three days, without praying, without reading the Gospel, without feeling the need of His presence and of His consoling friendship. And often days pass without my remembering Jesus, but this is bad, this is very bad. We should feel anxiety when these things happen. Mary and Joseph looked for Him and found Him in the Temple while He was teaching. We too, especially in the house of God, can encounter the divine Teacher and receive His message of salvation. In the Eucharistic celebration, we have a living experience of Christ. He speaks to us, He offers us His Word, He illumines us, He illumines our path; He gives us his Body in the Eucharist from which we draw vigor to face the difficulties of every day.
And today we go back home with these two words: astonishment and anxiety. Am I able to be astonished when I see others’ good things, and so resolve family problems? Do I feel anxious when I have moved away from Jesus?
Let us pray for all the families of the world, especially those in which, for different reasons, peace and harmony are lacking. And we entrust them to the protection of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus:
 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Let us pray together for all those that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo suffer from violence and from Ebola. I hope that everyone will be committed to maintaining a peaceful atmosphere, which will make possible a regular and peaceful carrying out of the elections. Let us pray together: “Hail Mary . . . “
I greet you all, Romans and pilgrims; the parish groups, the Association, and the young people. A special greeting goes today to the families present here. Applaud all the families that are here — all, and also those taking part from home on television and radio. The family is a treasure: it must always be protected and defended.  May the Holy Family of Nazareth protect you and illuminate your path always.
I greet the Mercedarian Religious who have come together with ministers from various parts of Italy, as well as the faithful of Legnaro and Gragnano. I greet the scouts of Villabate; the Confirmation youngsters of the united ministry of Codogne (diocese of Vittorio Veneto) and those of some parishes of the diocese of Bergamo: Curno, Palazzago, Gromlongo, Barzana, Almenno. And I greet these two groups of Sisters with the Spanish flag and with the Polish flag.
I wish you all a happy Sunday and a serene end of the year. End the year with serenity.
I thank you again for your good wishes and your prayers. And, please continue to pray for me.
Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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Virginia Forrester

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