On the Family and Christian Community
The Holy Father spoke in his audience on September 9, 2015 on the close bond between the family and the Christian community: “the Church is a spiritual family and the family is a small Church (cf. Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 9).” He reminded us that while the history of the world goes on around us, it is the “history of human affections” that is “written directly in the heart of God; and it is the history that remains in eternity.” We enter this history, he noted, through the family, as Jesus Himself did.
The pope encouraged us to contemplate the mystery of Christ’s growing up in a family, then going out to form a community around Himself. “This is the meaning of the word ‘church,” Pope Francis said, “In the Gospels, Jesus’ assembly has the form of a hospitable family, not of an exclusive sect.” The disciples were given the task of caring for the community, not only each other but the hungry, the poor, and the sinner. “For this reality of Jesus’ assembly to be alive today, it is indispensable to revive the alliance between the family and the Christian community.”
Pope Francis said that, “A Church that is truly according to the Gospel cannot but have the form of a welcoming home, with the doors always open.” He called churches or other institutions with closed doors “museums.”
Noting that families can sometimes feel uncomfortable in parishes, seeing themselves as too poor, or messy, or “unhinged,” the Holy Father said, “It’s true, but no one is worthy, no one is up to the measure, no one has the strength! We can do nothing without God’s grace. Everything is given to us – freely given! And the Lord never arrives in a family without doing a miracle.” He pointed out that the Wedding at Cana continues today; the Lord is always ready to perform miracles in the family.
Regarding the Christian community, Pope Francis said that it must not be caught up too much in performing “functions” but rather seek to foster “inter-personal dialogue and mutual knowledge and esteem.” Families should “take the initiative and feel the responsibility to take their precious gifts to the community.” He reminded the audience that Christianity is for the whole society, it is “played in the open field of life shared with all.” Finally he exhorted the faithful to turn to Mary and to listen to her as she says, “Do whatever he tells you” (cf. John 2:5).