Address to Employees of the Holy See and Vatican City
As Christmas approached, Pope Francis met with the employees of the Holy See and Vatican City to extend his gratitude to them for their work and warm wishes for their Christmas season.
The Holy Father spoke first in gratitude to those who do the normal day-to-day tasks well without recognition or particular incentive. Next he asked forgiveness for the scandals that occurred in the last year, asking all to pray for those involved.
Then he turned to “the most important thing” he wanted to say: “I encourage you to take care of your marriage and your children. To take care and not neglect them: to play with your children.” He emphasized this with an analogy to a plant which requires care and light. “Marriage is like a plant. It’s not like a closet, which one puts there in the room, and it’s enough to dust it every now and then. A plant is alive, it is taken care of every day: one sees how it’s doing, gives it water, and so on. Marriage is a living reality: a couple’s life is never taken for granted, in any phase of the course of the family.” He added that the “most precious gift for the children” is not only the love that parents offer their sons and daughters, “but in fact the love of parents between them, namely, the conjugal relation. This does you, and also your children, so much good! Don’t neglect the family!”
Pope Francis encouraged his audience to “cultivate the ‘plant’ of marriage” and to focus their time and energy on the relationships within the family. “Speak to your children, listen to them, ask them what they think,” he said.
The pope also included grandparents in his reflection, noting that they are very important: “Grandparents have memory; they have wisdom.” He told a story of a woman who had been urged to place her mother in a nursing home, and who replied, “No! I want my son to grow beside his grandmother!”
Pope Francis spoke in his characteristic way of quarrelling in the family, saying that it would seem “abnormal” if it did not happen. “What is important is that the day not end without making peace,” he said. “Make peace in the evening, always!”
In conclusion, the Holy Father noted that “the Lord loves one who practices mercy in ordinary circumstances” and he expressed the hope that all present would experience mercy in the family.