On Giving and Receiving Forgiveness in the Family
The Holy Father’s Wednesday audience on November 4th centered on the family as the “training ground of gift and mutual forgiveness.” Noting the recent end of the Synod on the family, the pope said that he recognized that things did not stop as the synod met: “In the meantime, however, life does not stop, in particular the life of families does not stop!” While the bishops met each day in the synod hall, spouses, parents and children around the world were still loving, caring for, and forgiving each other.
Pope Francis spoke about the section on forgiveness in the Our Father, where we commit ourselves to forgiving as we have been forgiven. He said, “We cannot live without forgiving one another, or at least we cannot live well, especially in the family. Every day we wrong one another. We must take these mistakes into account, which are due to our fragility and our egoism.” He counseled family members not to wait to forgive, but rather “to heal immediately the wounds we cause, to reweave the threads that we break in the family.” As the pope has said in previous addresses, family members should strive always to make peace before the end of the day: “do not end the day in war!”
The lessons of forgiveness in the family spill over into other relationships. Pope Francis pointed out that by placing those words in the Our Father, Jesus asks us to remember every day that we have been forgiven, and this is what makes us able to forgive. “And it is indispensable that, in a society that is sometimes merciless, there are places, such as the family, where we can learn to forgive one another,” the pope said.
The Synod of bishops was likewise a reminder of this call to the family, said the Holy Father. It is part of the family’s “vocation and mission,” and the Church is always present to help families accomplish it.
Pope Francis assured families that if they walk in “the way of the Beatitudes” they will grow in the capacity to be witnesses to God’s forgiveness in the world. “Otherwise, we might engage in very beautiful preaching, and perhaps even cast out a devil, but at the end the Lord will not recognize us as his disciples because we did not have the capacity to forgive and to be forgiven by others!”
Looking forward to the coming year, Pope Francis said, “I desire that, in the Jubilee of Mercy, families rediscover the treasure of mutual forgiveness. Let us pray that families are increasingly capable of living and building concrete ways of reconciliation, where no one feels abandoned to the weight of his debts.” In conclusion, he led the crowd in the Our Father.