Homily on the Feast of the Holy Family
Pope Francis focused on the theme of pilgrimage in the readings for the Mass on the Feast of the Holy Family on December 27, 2015, also the Jubilee of Families. In particular, the Holy Father highlighted the fact that in both the first reading and the Gospel, an entire family goes on a pilgrimage of prayer together to the house of God. He said that this is a pilgrimage that all families should embark on together, one of prayer and praise. “Fathers, mothers and children together go to the house of the Lord, in order to sanctify the holy day with prayer,” he said. “How important it is for our families to journey together towards a single goal!” He encouraged all families to “share in moments of prayer,” like the parents giving a blessing to the children “at the beginning and end of each day, to trace on their forehead the sign of the cross, as they did on the day of their baptism.” He also pointed out meals as a time of family prayer. “These are all little gestures, yet they point to the great formative role played by the family in the pilgrimage of everyday life,” the pope said.
The Holy Father reflected next on the episode of Christ’s staying in the Temple after his parents left, and conjectured that Jesus asked forgiveness of his parents “for this little ‘escapade.’” He said that a pilgrimage does not end until the family is at home again living out the “spiritual fruits” of the experience. Jesus goes home with Mary and Joseph and is obedient to them. “Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience.”
Pope Francis called for every Christian family to “become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness” in the Year of Mercy. We learn how to forgive in the family, he said. “Let us not lose confidence in the family!…To all of you, dear families, I entrust this most important mission – the domestic pilgrimage of daily family life – which the world and the Church need, now more than ever.”