The Nativity scene in St Peter's Square The Nativity scene in St Peter's Square 

Pope’s Angelus of Sunday 31 December 2017: Full text

This Sunday, Pope Francis reflects on the Feast of the Holy Family and how St Luke’s Gospel describes the presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

On 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. Trust is an expression of the ritual performed by Mary and Joseph with the offering of her son Jesus to God: "They brought the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord" (Lk 2:22), as required by the Law of Moses. The parents of Jesus go to the temple to certify that the child belongs to God and that they are the guardians of his life and not the owners.

This gesture emphasizes that only God is the Lord of individual and family history; everything comes to us from Him. Every family is called to recognize this primacy, guarding and educating children to be open to God who is the very source of life. From here comes the secret of inner youth, paradoxically witnessed in the Gospel by an elderly couple, Simeon and Anna. The old Simeon, in particular, inspired by the Holy Spirit says about the child Jesus: "He is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel and as a sign of contradiction [...] so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.”

These prophetic words reveal that Jesus came to bring down the false images that we make of God and of ourselves; to "contradict" the worldly certainties on which we claim to support ourselves; to make us "rise up" to an authentic human and Christian journey based on the values ​​of the Gospel. There is no family situation that is precluded on this new path of rebirth and resurrection. Whenever families, even those wounded and marked by frailty, failure and difficulty, return to the source of Christian experience, new paths and unimagined possibilities open up.

Today's Gospel story tells us that Mary and Joseph, "when they had done everything the law of the Lord required, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew to maturity and he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” A great joy of the family is the growth of children. They are destined to mature and become strong, to acquire wisdom and to receive the grace of God, just as happened to Jesus. He is truly one of us: the Son of God becomes a child, He agrees to grow in maturity and strength, He is filled with wisdom and the grace of God is upon him. Mary and Joseph experience the joy of seeing all this in their son; and this is the mission to which the family is called: to create the best conditions that will allow for the harmonious and full growth of children, so that they can live a life that is good, worthy of God, and constructive for the world.

This is the wish I have for all families, a wish I accompany with an invocation to Mary, Queen of the Family.

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31 December 2017, 12:48