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On the Holy Family

"Living Image of the Love of God"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 2, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Sunday, the feast of the Holy Family, before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On this last Sunday of the year we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. I joyfully greet all families worldwide, wishing them the peace and love that Jesus has given us, coming among us at Christmas.

In the Gospel we do not find speeches on the family but an event that is worth more than any word: God willed to be born and to grow up in a human family. In this way, he has consecrated the family as the first and ordinary way of his encounter with humanity.

During his life in Nazareth, Jesus honored the Virgin Mary and righteous Joseph, being subject to their authority during the whole time of his infancy and adolescence (Luke 2:51-52). In this way, he made evident the primary value of the family in the education of a person. Jesus was introduced to the religious community by Mary and Joseph, frequenting the synagogue of Nazareth.

With them he learned how to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as narrated in the Gospel passage that the liturgy of the day proposes for our meditation. When he was 12 years old, he stayed behind in the temple, and his parents took three days to find him. With that gesture, he led them to understand that he had to "attend to his Father's business," that is, to the mission that God had entrusted to him (Luke 2:41-52).

This Gospel episode reveals the most authentic and profound vocation of the family: that of supporting each one of its members on the path of discovery of God and of the plan he has ordained for them. Mary and Joseph educated Jesus above all by their example: From his parents, he learned all the beauty of the faith, of the love of God and of his law, as well as the exigencies of justice, which finds its fulfillment in love (Romans 13:10).

From them he learned first of all that one must do God's will, and that the spiritual bond is worth more than that of blood. The Holy Family is truly the "prototype" of every Christian family that, united in the sacrament of marriage and nourished by the Word and the Eucharist, is called to carry out the marvelous vocation and mission of being a living cell not only of society but of the Church, sign and instrument of unity for the whole human race.

Let us now invoke together the protection of Mary Most Holy and of St. Joseph for every family, especially for those in difficulty. May they be supported so that they will be able to resist the disintegrating impulses of a certain contemporary culture which undermines the very basis of the family institution. May they may help Christian families throughout the world to be the living image of the love of God.

[At the end of the Angelus, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

On this joyful feast of the Holy Family I am happy to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present for today's Angelus. In the Holy Family of Nazareth we are given the true model of a Christian home.

Let us resolve to make our own homes radiate with Christ's loving harmony and peace. Our hearts also turn today to all those for whom family life is marred by sadness, tragedy, or violence.

May they be uplifted by the hope which Jesus brings to each one of us. Upon all of you and your loved ones I invoke God's abundant blessings of joy and peace!

[In Polish, the Pope said:]

I greet all Poles. Let us thank God for the past year and for all the good received, particularly for the pilgrimage to Poland. I recall the itinerary in the footsteps of the Servant of God John Paul II and your testimony of faith.

Today, Sunday of the Holy Family, I pray that your families will be a worthy place of education for children and young people. May God bless you!

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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