“Retreat with Pope Francis” Day Seven: Take Forward the Meaning of Family
“Do not hide your faith, do not hide Jesus, but carry him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!” (Meeting with Families in the Philippines, January 16, 2015)
Breaking open the theme:
Did you know that families are called to be missionaries? For some families, that may mean moving around the world to share the Gospel with people who don’t know Jesus. But for most families, being missionaries means living the Gospel in the midst of your daily family life: carrying Jesus “into the world,” as Pope Francis says. Offering “the witness of your family life” in the carpool, at work, at soccer practice, in the grocery store. Families are challenged not to be closed in on their own needs and concerns, but to be open to others. A particular witness is being welcoming to people without families or with difficult family situations, for example widows, children of divorce, and single people. “Do not hide Jesus!” Pope Francis exhorts.
At first, Patty and Mike were intimidated by the idea of serving others. Service and evangelization weren’t part of their childhood experiences, and they felt overwhelmed by the demands of their jobs and home life. But they were inspired by the example of another couple at their parish who found simple ways to reach out: calling an elderly widow to check in, making a meal for an ill parishioner, inviting friends to their parish Bible study, and so on. Patty and Mike started to brainstorm how their family could serve others. They started by inviting college students over for dinner, and even that little act of hospitality made their whole family feel more alive.
Put it into Practice:
- Pray: Together, ask God to show you how your family can reach out to others right now, in whatever circumstances you are currently in.
- Reflect: Talk about families you know who exemplify being missionaries to those around them. Do they give you any ideas?
- Do: As a family, choose one way to serve others in the coming months. Keep it simple, and try to involve everyone.
Prayer for Married Couples:
Almighty and eternal God,
You blessed the union of husband and wife
So that we might reflect the union of Christ with his Church:
look with kindness on us.
Renew our marriage covenant.
Increase your love in us,
and strengthen our bond of peace
so that, [with our children],
we may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.