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Pope: Parents Help Children to Mature

The Growth of Children is a Great Joy of the Family

Parents must help their children to mature, Pope Francis said on December 31, 2017, in his address before praying the Angelus with the crowd gathered at noon in St. Peter’s Square. He noted that the growth of children is a great joy of the family.

“The Gospel invites us to reflect on the experience lived by Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, while they grow together as a family in mutual love and trust in God,” according to the Holy Father.  He went on to explain that the Holy Family fulfilled the law by offering their son to God in the temple, recognizing that “God alone is Lord of individual and family history.”

 “Every family is called to acknowledge this primacy, protecting and educating the children to open themselves to God who is the very source of life,” Francis continued. “Every family is called to acknowledge this primacy, protecting and educating the children to open themselves to God who is the very source of life”

 The Pope concluded by reminding the faithful gathered in the square that Christ is “truly one of us: the Son of God makes himself a child, accepts to grow, is strengthened, is full of wisdom and the grace of God is upon Him.”

* * *

Before the Angelus:

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In this first Sunday after Christmas, we celebrate the Holy Family of Nazareth, and the Gospel invites us to reflect on the experience lived by Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, while they grow together as a family in mutual love and trust in God. Expression of this trust is the rite fulfilled by Mary and Joseph with the offering of their son Jesus to God. The Gospel says: “They brought the babe up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22), as the Mosaic Law required. Jesus’ parents go to the Temple to attest that their son belongs to God and that they are the custodians of his life, not the proprietors. And this makes us reflect. All parents are custodians of their children’s life, not proprietors, and they must help them to grow, to mature.

This gesture underlines that God alone is Lord of individual and family history; everything comes to us from Him. Every family is called to acknowledge this primacy, protecting and educating the children to open themselves to God who is the very source of life. The secret of interior youth passes by here, witnessed paradoxically in the Gospel by a couple of elderly <persons>, Simeon and Anna. Old Simeon, in particular, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says about the child Jesus: “This child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against [. . .] that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (vv. 34-35).

These prophetic words reveal that Jesus came to have the false images fall that we make of God and also of ourselves; to “contradict” the worldly securities on which we attempt to lean; to make us “rise again” to a genuine human and Christian way, founded on values of the Gospel. There is no family situation that is precluded from this new way of rebirth and resurrection. And every time families, including those wounded and marked by frailty, failures and difficulties, turn to the source of Christian experience, new ways and unimaginable possibilities open.

Today’s evangelical account says that Mary and Joseph “when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the child grew — says the Gospel — and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him” (vv. 39-40). We all know that the growth of children is a great joy of the family. They are destined to develop and to grow strong, to acquire wisdom and receive God’s grace, precisely as happened to Jesus. He is truly one of us: the Son of God makes himself a child, accepts to grow, is strengthened, is full of wisdom and the grace of God is upon Him. Mary and Joseph have the joy to see all this in their son; and this is the mission to which the family is oriented: to create the favorable conditions for the harmonious and full growth of their children so that they can live a good life, worthy of God and constructive for the world.

This is my wish for all families, accompanying it with the invocation to Mary, Queen of the Family.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

 

 

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