This morning, during the traditional general audience held on Wednesdays, the Pope has reflected on the relationship between family and Christian community: “It is a bond, as it were, natural, because the Church is a spiritual family and family is a small church. The Christian community is the home of those who believe in Jesus ,as a source of brotherhood between all men. The Church walks in the midst of the peoples, in the history of men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters: this is the story that matters to the Lord. The great events of the secular powers are described in history books, and remain there. But the history of human affections is written directly in the heart of God; and this is a history that stays forever. This is the place of life and faith. Family is the place of our initiation – irreplaceable, indelible- to this history”. Then he added: “This history of full life which will culminate in the contemplation of God for eternity in Heaven, begins with the family! This is the reason why the family is very important”.
Francis takes up again the topic of Christian community understood as a call and explains the meaning of the word Church: “It is beautiful to contemplate Jesus again and the signs of this bond! He was born in a family, and there he learned about the world: a shop, four houses, a small village. Yet, living for thirty years this experience, Jesus assimilated the human condition, made it a part of his communion with the Father and of his apostolic mission. Then, when he left Nazareth and began his public life, Jesus was created a community around him, a house, i.e. a con-vocation of people. This is the meaning of the word Church. In the Gospels, the assembly of Jesus is ha sthe shape of a friendly family, not an exclusive and closed sect: there we find Peter and John, but also the hungry and the thirsty, the stranger, and the persecuted, the sinner and the publican, the Pharisees and the crowds. Jesus does not stop to welcome and talk to anyone, even with those who do not expect anymore to meet God in their lives. It is a strong lesson for the Church! The disciples themselves are chosen to take care of this house, of this family of God’s guests”.
Returning to the present times, the Pope notes that it is necessary to put into practice this teaching of the gospel: “So as to maintain alive today this reality of Jesus’ house, it is essential that revive the alliance between family and Christian community. We might say that family and the parish are the two places where the communion of love finds its ultimate source in God himself. A Church that follows the Gospel cannot but be a welcoming home, with open doors, always. The churches, parishes, institutions, which keep their doors closed should not be called churches; they must be called museums! “.
The link between the Christian community and family is today, more than ever, essential and urgent. At the base of everything must be faith through which you can “find the necessary intelligence and courage to renew this alliance. Families sometimes step back, saying that you are not worthy: Father, we are a poor family, we cannot do that, we already have so many problems at home, we do not have the forces. This is true. But no one is worthy, no one is good enough, no one has the forces! Without the grace of God, we could not do anything. Everything is given to us, for free! And the Lord never comes into a new family without making some kind of miracle. Let us remember what he did at Cana’s wedding! Yes, the Lord, if we abandon ourselves in his hands, makes us work miracles – but those miracles are ordinary!- when the Lord is present, there is family”.
The Pope recalls that even the Christian community must play its role, trying to overcome “too managerial and too functional attitudes, and promote dialogue and interpersonal knowledge and mutual esteem. Families take the initiative and feel the responsibility to bring their precious gifts to the community. We should be all aware that the Christian faith is played on the open field of life shared by everyone, family and the parish must accomplish the miracle of a life that feels more the spirit of community for the entire of society”. Francis concluded his catechesis with the following words: “At Cana, there was the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of Good Counsel. Let us listen to her words: Do whatever she tells you. Dear families, dear parish communities, let us be inspired by this Mother, let us do everything Jesus will tell us to do and we will be in front of a miracle, the every-day miracle! Thank You”.