Take Forward the Meaning of Family
On Friday, January 16, 2015 Pope Francis spoke to 20,000 people at a Meeting with Families in the Philippines during an apostolic visit. After greeting the crowd, the Pope exclaimed that he wished to reflect on the gift of the family with them. He spoke about the Gospel passage of Matthew 21:13-23, in which an angel appears to St. Joseph in a dream and tells him to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt. There are three aspects of this Gospel passage that Francis chose to speak on: “resting in the Lord, rising with Jesus and Mary, and being a prophetic voice.”
Of resting in the Lord, Pope Francis encouraged families to make prayer an essential part of their homes. It is in the family, he said, where we first learn how to pray and love. The family is also where “we learn to move beyond our own needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them.” He reminded the people that families who pray together have an easier time remaining together.
In consideration of Joseph’s fleeing to Egypt, Pope Francis said that Joseph heard the threats being made to his family and had to rise with Jesus and Mary. We must also hear the threats being made to families in our world today. The Holy Father stated, “God calls upon us to recognize the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm.” Among these dangers, Francis warned of the “ideological colonization” that attempts to destroy the family, threats such as attempts to redefine marriage, relativism, a culture of the temporary, and a culture that is not open to life. The family must be strong and overcome these threats, for a threat to the family “is a threat to society itself,” as Saint Pope John Paul II said too.
The family is also called to be a prophetic voice in our world and communities. Being a prophetic voice, Pope Francis said, means going forth from our homes and helping those who are in need. He asked the people to “show concern for those who do not have a family of their own…never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them.” Pope Francis exhorted the families present to “take forward, prophetically, the meaning of the family.”
In closing, Pope Francis exclaimed, “Do not hide your faith, do not hide Jesus, but carry him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!”