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Archive photo: Pope Francis meets with Vatican employees and their families (December 2020) Archive photo: Pope Francis meets with Vatican employees and their families (December 2020)  (Vatican Media)

Pope to Vatican employees: Imitate St Joseph's dedication to work and family

Pope Francis greets Vatican employees and their families for the traditional exchange of Christmas greetings, and urges them to look to St Joseph as an example of how to combine work and family.

By Francesca Merlo

Addressing Vatican employees and their families during his annual Christmas greetings, Pope Francis expressed his hope that "Jesus be born in your hearts and in your families". He noted that God is present where love and compassion are. 

On grandparents

Pope Francis explained that closeness to one's families is essential, and used the pandemic period as an example to say "if we can't go, let's call!" We must do what we must to spend time together, he added. The Pope payed particular attention to grandparents, who are particularly vulnerable during this pandemic. He recalled a story his own grandmother told him when he was a young boy:

There was a family all living together, and as the granfather grew older he would spill soup on himself whilst eating it. At this, the father once said "we can't live like this because we can't have friends over... I'll have grandpa eat in the kitchen. I'll make him a nice little table," and that's what happened. A week later when the father came home from work, he found his ten-year-old son playing with wood, a hammer and some nails. "What are you making?", asked the father, to which the little boy replied "a little table, for you, for when you are old". 

The Pope's message with this story was that "what we sow, our children will sow with us". Please don't neglect grandparents, stressed the Pope, don't neglect the elderly: they are wisdom. 

We each have our worries

Every family has worries, continued the Pope, recognising that "sometimes there are more difficult situations than others." In this regard, the Pope prayed that "those who need it most will receive the gift of serenity, both personal and in the family." Every stage of life has had its own hardships, he added.

The Pope went on to note that with regard to work "we have tried to guarantee employment" and have "undertaken not to leave anyone without a job."

He added that he is aware that there have been "some problems" but hopes that satisfactory solutions can be found through dialogue, whilst always respecting the rights of the worker. 

Turn to St Joseph

In this regard, Pope Francis said that "we ask for the intercession of St Joseph for this", as "he is 'competent' in the field of labour!"

The Pope added that this whole year has been dedicated to St Joseph, and expressed his hopes that this "has helped you to feel him closer, more present in your lives, in your families."

He invited everyone to turn to St Joseph in prayer. "He is a man of few words - he never speaks in the Gospel - of few words but of many deeds," noted the Pope, adding that he is "a man who listens to the will of God and puts it into practice, without hesitation."

Pope Francis recalled that God revealed himself to St Joseph whilst he was sleeping. This has a symbolic meaing because "it is not just a matter of dreams in the psychological sense, but of revelations of the divine plan, which he received in his sleep and then, on waking, immediately carried out."

Experience the fatherly hand of God

Bringing his address to a close, Pope Francis noted that "as the story of Joseph and Mary teaches us, the family is the privileged place where God's Providence is experienced."

In this regard, the Pope continued, "I want to wish you too, each one of your families, precisely this: to experience the paternal hand of God guiding our steps along his paths, for the good of the spouses, for the good of the children, for the good of the whole family."

God's plans are not always clear, concluded the Pope, "they often take time to manifest themselves, they require patience; above all, they require faith, a great deal of trust that God wants only and always the good, the greatest good for us and our loved ones."

23 December 2021, 12:33