‘This is God’s dream for His beloved Creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self.’
These were the words of Pope Francis today during his homily at the opening Mass for the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: ‘The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world.’
The Pope began his homily telling the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica that today’s readings “seem to have been chosen precisely for this moment of grace which the Church is experiencing”: this Synod of Bishops on the family, and how they center on three themes: solitude, love between man and woman, and the family.
The Holy Father began by recalling that Adam’s loneliness prompted God to send him Eve, ‘a helper,’ and went on to say how in today’s society, many experience similar feelings of solitude.
“Today we experience the paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families; many ambitious plans and projects, but little time to enjoy them,” he said, with “many sophisticated means of entertainment, but a deep and growing interior emptiness; many pleasures, but few loves; many liberties, but little freedom…”
The Pontiff lamented how the number of lonely people keeps growing. Today, he observed, there is so much power, yet so much loneliness and vulnerability, adding that the family is the image of this.
“People are less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad. Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past. It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.”
Love between man and woman
Pope Francis reflected that God “made men and women for happiness, to share their journey with someone who complements them, to live the wondrous experience of love: to love and to be loved, and to see their love bear fruit in children.”
“God’s dream for his beloved creation,” Pope Francis said, “is to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self.”
Francis reminded those gathered that God blesses human love. In joining the hearts of two people who love one another, the Pope said, He joins them in unity and indissolubility. “This shows us that the goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for life, but to love one another for life! In this way Jesus re-establishes the order which was present from the beginning.”
When Mark’s Gospel says, ‘What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder,’ the Holy Father reminded those present that this is “an exhortation to believers to overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centeredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan.”
“Marriage is not some adolescent utopia,” Francis underscored, “but a dream without which his creatures will be doomed to solitude! Indeed, being afraid to accept this plan paralyzes the human heart.”
The Pope lamented that people today–“who often ridicule this plan”– paradoxically, “continue to be attracted and fascinated by every authentic love, by every steadfast love, by every fruitful love, by every faithful and enduring love. We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love; they chase after carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving.”
In this extremely difficult social and marital context, the Pontiff said, the Church is called to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love, which requires defending marriage and protecting life, every life. To carry out Her mission, Pope Francis stressed that the Church must teach and defend fundamental values, remembering to not point a finger in judgment of others, as Jesus came to call the sinners.
“Faithful to Her nature as a mother,” the Pope reaffirmed the Church’s duty “to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a “field hospital” with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation.”
Pope Francis concluded, praying that the Lord accompany us during the Synod and guide His Church, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph.
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