Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The sacrament of marriage is "a great act of faith and love", and also "courage", it is the "image" of the "indissoluble" love of Christ for his Church, "the route is thus marked forever, it is the route of love: love as God loves you, forever" . It also has a "missionary dimension", "as Christian spouses participate in it as spouses to the mission of the Church".
Continuing his catechesis dedicated to the family, Pope Francis today centered his reflection on the "beauty of Christian marriage", in which the Church is "fully involved": "it is edified by its successes and suffers from its failures”.
Passing among the 40 thousand faithful gathered in St Peter's Square, the Pope alighted from the white jeep to greet closely a group of people waving flags of the Republic of China, who came together with Msgr. Vincent Zhu Weifang of Wenzhou (Zhejiang), who is recognized by both the government and by the Holy See.
In his speech, the Pope said that Christian marriage "is not merely a ceremony that takes place in the church, with flowers, the dress, the photos .... Christian marriage is a sacrament that takes place in the Church, and that also makes the Church, by giving rise to a new family community”.
"St. Paul, speaking of the new life in Christ, says Christians – all of us - are called to love one another as Christ loved us, that is "subject to one another ", which means at the service of one another. Here he introduces the analogy between the husband and wife and Christ and his Church. It is clear that this is an imperfect analogy, but we have to grasp its elevated and revolutionary spiritual meaning, which is, at the same time, simple and accessible to every man and woman who entrust themselves to God's grace. The husband - says Paul - must love his wife "as his own body"; love her as Christ "loved the Church and gave Himself for her." But you husbands who are here today, do you understand this? Love your wife as Christ loves the Church. This is no joking matter, it's serious! The effect of this radicalism of devotion asked of man, for the love and the dignity of woman, following the example of Christ, must have been enormous, in the Christian community itself. This seed of the new Gospel, which restored the original reciprocity of dedication and respect, has matured slowly in history, but in the end prevailed. The sacrament of marriage is a great act of faith and love: it witnesses to the courage it takes to believe in the beauty of the creative act of God and live that love which pushes us to always go further, beyond ourselves and beyond our own family. The Christian vocation to love unconditionally and without limit is what, with the grace of Christ, is also the basis of free consent which constitutes marriage. "
"The Church herself is fully involved in the history of every Christian marriage: is edified in its successes and suffers in its failures. We must seriously ask ourselves: Do we, as believers and pastors really accept this unbreakable bond of the history of Christ and the Church with the history of marriage and of the human family? Are we are prepared to take this responsibility seriously, that being that every marriage travel the path of love that Christ has for the Church? And this is a great love! ".
"In the depths of this creatural mystery, recognized and restored in its purity, a second major horizon opens up that characterizes the sacrament of marriage. The decision to 'marry in the Lord' also contains a missionary dimension, which means having at heart the willingness to act as a steward of God's blessing and grace of God for all. In fact, Christian couples share as spouses in the mission of the Church. It takes courage for this, eh! So when I greet the newlyweds, I say: 'Here are the brave!', Because it takes courage to love each other as Christ loves the Church".
"The celebration of the sacrament cannot leave out this co-responsibility of family life in the great mission of love of the Church. And so each time the life of the Church is enriched by the beauty of this spousal covenant, just as it is impoverished whenever it is disfigured. In order to offer everyone the gifts of faith, love and hope, the Church also needs the courageous fidelity of spouses and the grace of their sacrament! God's people need their daily journey in faith, love and hope, with all the joys and hardships that this path brings with it in a marriage and a family".
"The route is thus marked forever, it is the route of love: love as God loves you, forever. Christ does not cease to care for the Church: He loves her always, He safeguards Her always, as Himself. Christ never ceases to remove stains and wrinkles of all kinds from the human face. It is so moving and so beautiful this irradiation strength and tenderness of God which is transmitted from couple to couple, from family to family. St. Paul is right: this is a 'great mystery'! Men and women brave enough to carry this treasure in the 'earthen vessels' of our humanity, are - these men and women, who are so brave - are an essential resource for the Church, for the whole world! God bless you a thousand times for this! ".
Fi9nally, at the end of the audience Francis, said that "over the next few days the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked in some capital cities in Europe. On this occasion, I entrust to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace, the hope that human society learn from past mistakes and that also face the current conflicts that are tearing apart some regions of the world, that all the civil leaders commit themselves to seeking the common good and the promotion of a culture of peace”.