During his weekly General Audience today, Pope Francis continued his theme on the image of the Church as a mother. This image, he said, “shows us the face the Church, this Church of ours, should increasingly show.”
The Pope began his discourse by describing what a mother does for her children. “[A mother] teaches how to walk in life, she teaches how to do well in life, she knows how to direct her children, she seeks always to indicate the right way in life to grow and become adults,” the Pope said. Adding that a mother does all these things with tenderness, Pope Francis told the faithful that the Church does the same by instructing us on how to follow the right path.
“Think of the ten Commandments: they show us the route to follow if we are to mature, fixing certain cardinal points in our behavior,” the Holy Father said. “And these are the fruits of tenderness, of the very love that God gives us. You might say to me: but these are commandments! They are a list of negatives! I would like to invite you to read them and then think about them positively. You will see that they concern our way of behaving towards God, towards ourselves and towards others, just as a mother teaches us how to live well.”
The Pope stressed that just as a mother never teaches anything that will do harm to her children, so does the Church gives us only “what is best for her children.”
A Merciful Mother
A second aspect of the Church’s maternal relationship that the Holy Father focused on was on the continuing patience and mercy shown to Her children despite their mistakes. When a child grows and becomes an adult, the Pope said, “he does what he wants, and at times, he may happen to stray away from the path.”
“A mother always, in every situation, has the patience to continue to accompany her children. She is animated by the strength of love and even when [her children] make mistakes, she always finds a way of understanding them, to help them. We say that a mother ‘stands up and is counted’ for her own children; that is, she always seeks to defend them,” the Pope said.
Likewise, he continued, the Church is a “merciful mother” who continues to encourage her children despite any mistakes that they make. The Church “never closes the doors of her house to them: she does not judge, but rather offers God’s forgiveness, she offers her love to invite her children to return to the right path and even when they have fallen into the deepest abyss, the Church is not afraid to enter into their darkest night with them in order to give them hope; the Church is not afraid to enter into our night when our soul and conscience are surrounded by darkness, to give us hope!,” the Pope exclaimed.
Explaining the third aspect, the Holy Father explained a mother’s role in praying for her children, especially when they are most in need. The Church, he said, does likewise.
“Through prayer, she places the lives of all her children in the hands of the Lord. Let us trust in the strength of prayer of the Mother Church: the Lord never remains indifferent. He always knows how to astonish us when we least expect us. The Mother Church knows this,” the Holy Father said.