At the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia recently, Pope Francis gave us unforgettable words and images to illuminate the burdens and blessings of family life. The Holy Father was realistic, humorous, down to earth. These excerpts from his talks offer a fitting context for reflecting on today’s Scriptures.
“The family has a divine identity card. Do you see what I mean? God gave the family an identity card, so that families could be places in our world where his truth, love and beauty could continue to take root and grow. Some of you may say to me: “Father, you can say that because you’re not married!” Certainly, in the family there are difficulties. In families we argue. In families sometimes we throw dishes. In families children cause headaches. I’m not going to say anything about mothers-in-law! Families always, always, have crosses….But in families also, the cross is followed by resurrection, because there, too, the Son of God leads us. So the family is – if you excuse the word – a workshop of hope, of the hope of life and resurrection, since God was the one who opened this path…..”
“The family is beautiful, but it takes hard work; it brings problems. In the family, sometimes there is fighting. The husband argues with the wife; they get upset with each other, or children get upset with their parents. May I offer a bit of advice: never end the day without making peace in the family. In the family the day cannot end in fighting.”
To my mind, Pope Francis’ advice applies equally well to families, communities, workplaces, friendships, legislatures – any place where two or three gather, on behalf of a common good that is larger than any one person.
One writer comments that today’s readings “point us to realities beyond marriage, challenging us to deepen our fidelity to one another and to Christ as members of his One Body….Are we torn open by the sufferings of our brothers and sisters? Do we weep for each other as we would weep for a beloved spouse?” Challenging questions, indeed.
Like his namesake, Francis of Assisi, whose feast is today, the Pope challenges us to be instruments of peace – never an easy vocation. May we be moved each day to embrace each other in forgiveness and love. May the power of the Eucharist that we share transform us more and more into one body, the Body of Christ, in and for our beautiful, broken world.
–Regina Bechtle, SC
Sr. Regina serves as Charism Resource Director for the Sisters of Charity of New York. A retreat leader and spiritual director, she gives presentations to lay and religious groups about St. Elizabeth Seton and our Vincentian-Charity heritage of spirituality.
Photo credit: By governortomwolf [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons