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1) The Family - Nazareth

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Family
General Audience, Wednesday 17 December 2014 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
The Synod of Bishops on the Family, recently celebrated, was the first stage of a journey, which will conclude next October with the celebration of another Assembly on the theme: “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and [Contemporary] World”. The prayer and reflection which must accompany this journey is required of all the People of God. I would also like the customary meditations of the Wednesday Audiences to be included in this common journey. I have therefore decided to reflect with you, this year, precisely on the family, on this great gift that the Lord has made to the world from the very beginning, when he entrusted Adam and Eve with the mission to multiply and fill the earth (cf. Gen 1:28); that gift that Jesus confirmed and sealed in his Gospel.

The nearness of Christmas casts a great light on this mystery. The Incarnation of the Son of God opens a new beginning in the universal history of man and woman. And this new beginning happens within a family, in Nazareth. Jesus was born in a family. He could have come in a spectacular way, or as a warrior, an emperor.... No, no: he is born in a family, in a family. This is important: to perceive in the nativity, this beautiful scene.

God chose to come into the world in a human family, which He himself formed. He formed it in a remote village on the outskirts of the Roman Empire. Not in Rome, which was the capital of the Empire, not in a big city, but on its nearly invisible outskirts, indeed, of little renown. The Gospels also recall this, almost as an expression: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46). Perhaps, in many parts of the world, we still talk this way, when we hear the name of some areas on the periphery of a big city. And so, right there, on the outskirts of the great Empire, began the most holy and good story of Jesus among men! And that is where this family was.

Jesus dwelt on that periphery for 30 years. The Evangelist Luke summarizes this period like this: Jesus “was obedient to them”; — that is, to Mary and Joseph. And someone might say: “But did this God, who comes to save us, waste 30 years there, in that suburban slum?”. He wasted 30 years! He wanted this. Jesus’ path was in that family — “and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man” (Lk 2:51-52). It does not recount miracles or healing, or preaching — He did none in that period — or of crowds flocking; in Nazareth everything seemed to happen “normally”, according to the customs of a pious and hardworking Israelite family: they worked, the mother cooked, she did all the housework, ironed shirts... all the things mothers do. The father, a carpenter, worked, taught his son the trade. Thirty years. “But what a waste, Father!”. God works in mysterious ways. But what was important there was the family! And this was not a waste! They were great saints: Mary, the most holy woman, immaculate, and Joseph, a most righteous man.... The family.

We are certainly moved by the story of how the adolescent Jesus followed the religious calendar of the community and the social duties; in knowing how, as a young worker, He worked with Joseph; and then how He attended the reading of the Scriptures, in praying the Psalms and in so many other customs of daily life. The Gospels, in their sobriety, make no reference to Jesus’ adolescence and leave this task to our loving meditation. Art, literature, music have taken this journey through imagination. It is certainly not difficult to imagine how much mothers could learn from Mary’s care for that Son! And how much fathers could glean from the example of Joseph, a righteous man, who dedicated his life to supporting and protecting the Child and his wife — his family — in difficult times. Not to mention how much children could be encouraged by the adolescent Jesus to understand the necessity and beauty of cultivating their most profound vocation and of dreaming great dreams! In those 30 years, Jesus cultivated his vocation, for which the Father had sent him. And in that time, Jesus never became discouraged, but increased in courage in order to carry his mission forward.

Each Christian family can first of all — as Mary and Joseph did — welcome Jesus, listen to Him, speak with Him, guard Him, protect Him, grow with Him; and in this way improve the world. Let us make room in our heart and in our day for the Lord. As Mary and Joseph also did, and it was not easy: how many difficulties they had to overcome! They were not a superficial family, they were not an unreal family. The family of Nazareth urges us to rediscover the vocation and mission of the family, of every family. And, what happened in those 30 years in Nazareth, can thus happen to us too: in seeking to make love and not hate normal, making mutual help commonplace, not indifference or enmity. It is no coincidence, then, that “Nazareth” means “She who keeps”, as Mary, who — as the Gospel states — “kept all these things in her heart” (cf. Lk 2:19, 51). Since then, each time there is a family that keeps this mystery, even if it were on the periphery of the world, the mystery of the Son of God, the mystery of Jesus who comes to save us, the mystery is at work. He comes to save the world. And this is the great mission of the family: to make room for Jesus who is coming, to welcome Jesus in the family, in each member: children, husband, wife, grandparents.... Jesus is there. Welcome him there, in order that He grow spiritually in the family. May the Lord grant us this grace in these last days of Advent. Thank you."


"Je suis heureux de vous saluer chers amis francophones, particulièrement les jeunes venant de France. À quelques jours de la célébration de la Nativité du Seigneur, je vous invite à lui demander d’aider toutes les familles à redécouvrir leur vocation et leur mission dans l’Église et dans le monde. A tous, je souhaite de bonnes fêtes de Noël et du Nouvel An !

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including the various student groups from the United States of America. As the holy season of Christmas draws near, I invoke upon you and your families joy and peace in the Lord Jesus. God bless you all!

Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger und Besucher deutscher Sprache. Ich wünsche euch ein gesegnetes und frohes Weihnachtsfest. Betrachtet die heilige Familie als Heim, als lebendigen und geistigen Raum für den heranwachsenden Jesus. Öffnet ihm eure Herzen und eure Häuser und gebt die Gaben seiner Liebe der Welt weiter. Gott segne eure Familien!

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España, Argentina, México, y otros países latinoamericanos. También, cuando hice el recorrido, había varios grupos de tangueros. Les deseo que hoy puedan hacer buen espectáculo, y que sople un poco de viento pampero aquí.  Que la proximidad del nacimiento de Jesús avive en todas nuestras familias el deseo de recibirlo con un corazón puro y agradecido. Muchas gracias y que Dios los bendiga.

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, sede bem-vindos! De coração vos saúdo a todos, confiando ao bom Deus a vossa vida e a dos vossos familiares. Muito obrigado pelos votos formulados pelo meu aniversário e para as próximas Festas Natalícias, que retribuo desejando-vos um Santo Natal e um Ano Novo repleto das bênçãos do Deus Menino.

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربيّةِ، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ منالشّرقِ الأوسط. أيُّها الأعزّاءُ، في الميلادِ يتواضعُ اللهُ وينزلُ إلى الأرضِ صغيرًا وفقيرًا ويدعونا للتّشبُهِ به. لتُساعدْنا العذراءُ مريمُ أمُّ يسوعَ وأمُّنا لنتعرّفَ في وجهِ قريبنا، وخصوصًا في الأشخاصِ الأشدَّ ضعفًا والمُهمَّشين، إلى صورةِ ابنِ اللهِ الذي صارَ إنسانًا. ميلادًا مجيدًا!

Na ostatniej w tym roku audiencji, w atmosferze adwentowego czuwania, witam i pozdrawiam serdecznie wszystkich Polaków. Życzę, by święta Bożego Narodzenia i Nowego Roku były dla was czasem radości, dobra i pokoju. Niech przychodzący na ziemię Emmanuel, Książę Pokoju opromieni swoim światłem, nadzieją i miłością wasze rodziny, bliskich, każdego z was. Wszystkim, którzy pragną spotkać Jezusa w tajemnicy betlejemskiej nocy z serca błogosławię.


Ora, un momento di silenzio e poi, con il Padre Nostro, vorrei pregare insieme con voi per le vittime dei disumani atti terroristici compiuti nei giorni scorsi in Australia, in Pakistan e nello Yemen. Il Signore accolga nella sua pace i defunti, conforti i familiari, e converta i cuori dei violenti che non si fermano neppure davanti ai bambini. Cantiamo il Padre Nostro chiedendo questa grazia.

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Nel clima di serena attesa, caratteristico di questi giorni prossimi al Natale, mi è gradito salutare con affetto i fedeli di lingua italiana. Saluto gli studenti del Pontificio Ateneo Regina Apostolorum e la Comunità dei Legionari di Cristo con i sacerdoti novelli; la delegazione del Comune di Bolsena; i ballerini di tango e le numerose scolaresche. Sembra la piazza del due per quattro! Tutti esorto a rendere più intenso in questi giorni l’impegno nella preghiera e con le opere buone, affinché la nascita di Gesù riempia i cuori della gioia vera che solo Lui può donare.

Un saluto speciale rivolgo ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Affidiamoci a Maria, madre della speranza e modello di perfetta credente. Cari giovani, accogliete il mistero di Betlemme con la stessa fede con cui Maria ha accolto l’annunzio dell’angelo Gabriele. Cari ammalati, attingete da Lei quella gioia e quell'intima pace che Gesù viene a portare nel mondo. Cari sposi novelli, imitate l’esempio della Madre di Gesù con la preghiera e le virtù."

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