Continuing in the posting of the catechesis of Papa Francesco from the General Audiences held almost every Wednesday in Vatican “Square”, below is the text from December 17, 2014, that I translated. To see an explanation of this series and to read the first one see posting from yesterday. In this catechesis, he moves into talking specifically about the family as is his intention to do for the next year. He begins rather traditionally, as he typically does, using the figure of the Holy Family, but then nuances it into a very non-traditional thinking. Loved how he had Mary ironing shirts. You will notice parenthetical comments I have made in the text, clearly indicated with “rr after them. “Ironing shirts” just would not translate any other way. I wonder if Mary had a steam iron!! I think what he is trying to do in using a statement like this, is to help us get our head around the fact that the Holy Family was/is a very real family. I don’t think he is being misogynistic. However, he may need to begin to wrap his mind around Joseph ironing his own shirts in today’s version of the Holy Family……Reyanna
The Family—1. Nazareth
Dear brothers and sisters,
The Synod of Bishops on the family, just celebrated, was the first stage of a journey that will conclude next October with the celebration of another Assembly on the theme: “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the World.” The prayer and reflection that must accompany this journey involved all the People of God. I would like that the usual meditations of the Wednesday audience insert you into this common journey. So, I have decided to reflect with you, in this year, only on the family, on this great gift that the Lord has made to the world from the beginning, when He conferred to Adam and Eve the mission to multiply and to fill the earth (cfr Gen 1: 28). That gift that Jesus confirmed and sealed in His Gospel.
The nearness of Christmas turns a great light on this mystery. The Incarnation of the Son of God opens a new beginning in the universal history of man and of woman. And the new beginning happens in the bosom of a family, at Nazareth. Jesus was born in a family: He could have come spectacularly, or as a warrior, or emperor….No, no: He came as a son of a family, in a family. This is important: see in the crib (Nativity scene..rr) this scene so beautiful.
God chose to be born in a human family, that He formed Himself. Formed in a lonely village on the periphery of the Roman Empire. Not at Rome, that was the capital of the Empire, not in a great city, but in a periphery somewhat invisible, on the contrary, rather infamous (“dodgy” was a possible translation…rr). I also remember the Gospels, somewhat as a way of saying: “From Nazareth never can come anything good” (Jn 1:46). Maybe, in many parts of the world, we ourselves speak even so, when we hear the name of somewhere peripheral to a great city Well, just as there, from the periphery of the great Empire, began history most holy and most good, that of Jesus among humanity. And there was found family.
Jesus remained in that periphery for thirty years. The evangelist Luke summarizes the period so: Jesus “was obedient to them (that is Mary and Joseph)”. And one might say: “But this God that came to save us lost 30 years there, in that infamous periphery.” He lost 30 years! He wanted this. The journey of Jesus was in that family “The mother held in her heart these things, and Jesus grew in wisdom, in years, and in grace before God and before men.” (Lk 2:51-52). It does not speak of miracles or healings, of predictions—He made none in that time—of crowds who flock; at Nazareth, everything seemed to happen “normally”, according to customs of a pious and industrious Israelite family: they worked, the mamma cooked, doing all the things of the house, ironed shirts (Yes, this is what PF said! Wouldn’t translate any other way!..rr)…all the things of a mamma. The papa, carpenter, worked, taught the son to work. Thirty years! “But what a waste, Father!”. The ways of God are mysterious. But what was important to them was the family. And this was not a waste. There was great holiness: Mary, a very holy woman, immaculate, and Joseph, a man very just….the family.
We would be certainly softened by the story of Jesus as a teenager facing the appointments of the religious community and the duties of social life; in knowing how, as a young worker, He worked with Joseph; and then His way of participating in listening to the Scriptures, of praying the Psalms and in so many other customs of daily life. The Gospels, in their sobriety, do not relate anything concerning the adolescence of Jesus and leave the task to our affectionate meditations. The arts, literature, music have traveled this way of imagination. For certain, it is not difficult to imagine how many mammas could learn from Mary’s attentions for this Son! And how many papas could gain by the example of Joseph, a just man, who dedicated his life to sustain and defend the child and wife—his family—in difficult passages. Not to mention, how many children could be encouraged to understand the need and beauty of cultivating their deepest vocation, and of dreaming big! And Jesus cultivated in these 30 years His vocation to which the Father had invited Him. And Jesus never, in that time, was discouraged, but grew in courage to go forward with His mission.
Each Christian family—as did Mary and Joseph—can, first of all, welcome Jesus, listen to, talk with Jesus, guard, protect, grow with Him; and thus better the world. We can make space in our hearts and in our days for the Lord. So as did also Mary and Joseph, and it was not easy; so many difficulties had to be overcome It was not a pretend family, it was not an unreal family. The family of Nazareth commits us to rediscover the vocation and the mission of the family, of every family. And as it happened in those 30 years in Nazareth, so it can happen for us also: to make normal love and not hatred, to make common mutual help, not indifference or hostility. Is it not the case, then, that “Nazareth” means “She who holds”, as in Mary, who—says the Gospel—“held in her heart all these things” (cfr Lk 2:19, 51)? Since then, every time that there is a family that hold this mystery, as was on the periphery of the world, the mystery of the Son of God, the mystery of Jesus, who comes to save us, is at work. And in this is the great mission of the family: to make a place for Jesus who comes, to welcome Jesus in the family, in the person of children, the husband, the wife, the grandparents. Jesus is them. Welcome him in them, so as to grow spiritually in the family. May the Lord give us this grace in these final days before Christmas. Thanks.