(Picture taken of plush Francis in front of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.)
Pope Francis’s trip to the United States in September centered on his appearance at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. We finish with another quote from the closing homily at the Mass for the World Meeting of Families:
“We renew our faith in the word of the Lord which invites faithful families to this openness [to the gospel]. It invites all those who want to share the prophecy of the covenant of man and woman, which generates life and reveals God!”
Christians are people of hope! God will never abandon his people, his chosen family, regardless of how far we fall away from him. As we approach the Jubilee of Mercy, this will be a theme for the entire Church to reflect and meditate upon. Our God is more than simply “willing” to forgive us; He longs to do so. He longs for us to return home, contrite and aware of our brokenness, and He is ready to run out to us and clothe us again as his children.
This is what it means to be faithful: not to never fall, but to keep getting up, coming back to the Lord, converting our hearts every day in order to conform our lives to the word of God. To become a saint, whose life only makes sense in light of the gospel of Jesus.
A faithful family is not a “perfect” one in the eyes of the world, but one that is open to the word of God, and open to one another even in the wounds each person bears. It is one that struggles and goes through trials, is tested and sometimes fails, but returns again to the struggle.
For example, one could think about a “perfect” family as one in which the parents never yell at the children, and the children are always delighted to go to bed at the proper time, because they are obedient and trust their parents’ judgment. Has anyone ever met such a family? No. But have you ever seen a family where, after a long and arduous struggle on the part of the parents to get the children into bed (and stay there), where there may be some sharp words and exasperation, there is reading of a story, and a moment of prayer? A kiss and an “I love you” and a “tucking in” of the children?
Cardinal Tagle of Manila spoke of the family as the “Home for the Wounded Heart” at the World Meeting of Families and remarked on the way that family members, because they sin, hurt each other, but they also forgive and heal each other as well. They are a home for each other, where they know that no matter what, they will be loved and accepted, even if not understood or agreed with.
When he referred to prophesying in this quote, Pope Francis was reflecting on the passage of the Old Testament in which Moses wishes that all people may be prophets. The Holy Father likewise invited all of us to be open to the Gospel of the Family, and in doing so, to become prophets. The covenant between man and woman, which gives life and is an image of the Trinity, is a prophecy for our time. It is a message for the world: life is good and love is real. The word of God is still speaking to the hearts of men and women today, and affirming their desires for a permanent and fruitful love.