He told pilgrims who had gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for the Angelus, “The first witnesses to the birth of Christ, the shepherds, found in front of them not only the Child Jesus, but also a small family: mother, father and newly born son. God chose to reveal himself by being born in a human family, thus the human family became an icon of God!”
The Pope went on to comment a passage in the Gospel from today’s Mass (Lk, 2:41-52), which tells the story of Jesus when he was left in the Temple of Jerusalem for three days before his parents found him.
“In response to his mother who asked for an explanation, Jesus said he had to be in his Father’s house, i.e. God’s house (cf Lk, 2:49). In this episode, the young Jesus appears full of zeal for God and the temple. Let us ask ourselves, who taught Jesus to love his Father’s house? Of course, his parents did. Who but they could teach him the prayers, the Commandments, respect for the Sabbath and the joy of practicing the precepts of the Lord? Who, but his father, a ‘righteous man’ (Mt, 1:19), could have taught him to obey God before men? Hence, we can say that Jesus’ decision to remain in the temple was the fruit of the education he received from Mary and Joseph.
“Here, we can glimpse the true meaning of a Christian education,” the Pope said. “It is the fruit of an ongoing collaboration between educators and God. The Christian family is aware that children are God’s gift and plan. Accordingly, parents cannot see them as their possession, but, in serving the Father’s plan of love through them, they are called to educate them in the greater freedom, which is to say ‘Yes’ to God, to enhance His will. The Virgin Mary is the perfect example of this ‘Yes’. We entrust to her all families, especially praying for their precious educational mission.”
During the Angelus Benedict XVI also addressed the faithful and the bishops of Spain, who in Madrid’s Plaza de Lima, celebrated Mass to promote the Christian family in accordance with the theme “The Future of Europe is based on the family”.
According to organisers, at least a million people attended the event in the Spanish capital. Card Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, bishop of the city, was one of its main promoters in order to stop the radical choices of the Spanish government, which has recognised same sex marriage and the possibility for gays to adopt children.
Speaking in Spanish, the Pontiff said, “One of the main services Christians can provide . . . is to bear witness serenely but firmly that the family is based on the marriage of a man and a woman, so as to safeguard it and promote it, because it is of the utmost importance for the present and the future of humanity.”
“The family is the best school in which we can learn the values that give dignity to the person and make a people great,” the Pope said in concluding his address. “In it, pain and joy are shared and everyone feels surrounded by the love that reigns at home for the simple fact of being part of the same family.” Photo: CPP