During the Angelus, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the Cairo attacks and the conversion of “all violent hearts”. Speaking about the Holy Family, he said that "the child belongs to God" and the parents "are the guardians of his life, not the owners". Even for the families that have been “wounded” or marked by “failure”, the “path of resurrection” is open. The pontiff calls on people to thank God for the past year and every good thing they may have received.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis expressed his "closeness to the Coptic Orthodox brothers of Egypt, struck two days ago by two attacks, on a church and a shop in the suburbs of Cairo". The attacks, claimed by the Islamic State group, killed ten people and wounded scores more.
Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square for the Angelus prayer, the pontiff added: "May the Lord welcome the souls of the dead, comfort the wounded, their families and the whole community, and convert all violent hearts."
Immediately afterwards he offered a "special greeting to the families present here, and also to those participating from home" to the Marian prayer. "May the Holy Family bless you and guide you on your journey."
The 'special greeting' refers to the feast day of the Holy Family, which is celebrated today. The former is seen as a "family in mutual love and trust in God".
Earlier, commenting on the Gospel in today's Mass (Luke 2:22-40), the Holy Father noted that Mary and Joseph "took him (the child) to Jerusalem to present to the Lord".
"Jesus’ parents went to the temple to confirm that the child belongs to God and that they are the guardians of his life, not his owners. This deed emphasises that only God is the Lord of individual and family history; everything comes to us from Him. Each family is called to recognise this primacy, guarding and educating children to open themselves to God who is the very source of life."
The Pope then hinted at the "inner youth" shown by the two elders, Simeon and Anna. "The elderly Simeon, in particular, inspired by the Holy Spirit, 'blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted [. . .] so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”.’”
“These prophetic words reveal that Jesus came to bring down the false images that we make of God and of ourselves, to 'contradict' the worldly certainties on which we claim to support ourselves, to make us 'resurrect' to an authentic human and Christian journey, based on the values of the Gospel.
“There is no family situation that is precluded on this new path of rebirth and resurrection. Whenever families, even those wounded and marked by weakness, failure and difficulty, return to the source of Christian experience, new paths and unimagined possibilities open up."
Turning to the Gospel where it says "The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him", Francis added: "A great joy for a family is the growth of children. They are destined to develop and fortify themselves, to acquire wisdom and receive God's grace, just as it happened to Jesus. He is truly one of us: the Son of God becomes a child, accepts to grow, to strengthen himself; he is full of wisdom and God’s grace is upon him.
“Mary and Joseph have the joy of seeing all this in their son, and this is the mission to which families are oriented: to create the favourable conditions for the harmonious and full growth of the children, so that they can live a good life, worthy of God and constructive for the world. This is the wish I address to all families, accompanying it with an invocation to Mary, Queen of the Family."
Before concluding, the pope invited everyone to think about with gratitude about the past year. "Let us not forget on this day to thank God for the past year and for all the good things we have received. It will do us good to take some time to think back to how many good things we have received from the Lord. And if there are difficulties, we should give thanks you for them too. Today is a day of thanksgiving."