12/17/2014, 00.00
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Pope: May God "convert the hearts of the violent who do not stop even before children"

Prayers "for the victims of inhuman terrorist acts in recent days in Australia, Pakistan and Yemen." Tango dancers, a cake and birthday wishes in all languages for Francis' 78 years. The "meditations" on the family during the general audiences are part of a journey in which the Extraordinary Synod of October" was the first step."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Let us pray "for the victims of the inhuman terrorist acts of recent days in Australia, Pakistan and Yemen. May the Lord receive the deceased in peace the dead, comfort their families, and convert the hearts of the violent who do not hold back even before children." This was how today's General Audience concluded after having begun with celebrations for Pope Francis' 78th birthday. Birthdat wishes were sung in different languages by the groups present for the Audicne,  preceded by a tango brought to life by some three thousand dancers who entertained Francis. A group of religious from Argentina offered a cake iced in blue and white, the colours of their country. Francis blew out the candles but did not eat any cake, happy to just take a sip of  mate.

But Birthday Wishes aside, the Pope's catechesis was again dedicated to the family with Francis pointing out that the Wednesday "meditations" are part of the path indicated  by the Extraordinary Synod of October "which was its first step". That path, he said,  will end 'next October with the celebration of another Assembly on the theme "Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the World."

Today he emphasized God's "choice" to be born in a human family, a "normal" family, in which to "rediscover the vocation and mission of every family. Just as it happened in those thirty years in Nazareth, it can happen for us as well: to make love - not hatred - normal, to make mutual help - not indifference or hostility - common practice".

"The incarnation of the Son of God - he said - opens a new beginning in the universal history of man and woman. And this new beginning starts within a family, in Nazareth. Jesus was born in a family. He could have come... like a warrior, an emperor... No, no: he came like a son... in a family. this is important; look at the crib, at this beautiful scene."

"God chose to be born in a human family, that he himself formed. He placed it in a remote village on the outskirts of the Roman Empire. Not in Rome, which was the greatest city of the Empire, not in a big city, but in an almost invisible periphery, indeed it was actually rather rough, as described by the Gospels "Nazareth, can anything good come from there?" Perhaps, in many parts of the world, we still use this kind of language when we hear the name of some suburban area of a big city. Well, from there, from the periphery of the great Empire, that's where the holiest story began: that of  Jesus among men! And there was this family."

"Jesus stayed in that periphery for thirty years. Luke speaks of that period saying that Jesus " 'This God who comes to save us lost thirty years in that infamous place? he lost thirty years!' This is what he wanted. The path of Jesus was within that family. And his mother kept all these things in her heart, and Jesus grew in wisdom, age and grace before God and before men. "it is not about miracles or healings, of preaching, there is no mention of anything of the kind at that - and there is no talk of crowds flocking to Nazareth; in Nazareth everything seems to take place "normally", according to the customs of a pious and industrious Jewish family". "He worked, his mother cooked, did all the things you do in a home, she ironed shirts... all the things that moms do. Dad, the carpenter, worked, taught his son to work. For thirty years: 'But what a waste! Father! '. But you never know, the ways of God are mysterious. What was important was the family! And that was not a waste, huh! they were great saints: Mary, the holiest most immaculate woman, and Joseph, the 'most righteous man ... The family".

"We are certainly moved by the story of how the adolescent Jesus lived his life with the religious community and the duties of social life; how as a young worker, he labored worked with Joseph; and then his way of listening to the Scriptures, praying the Psalms and many other habitual behaviors of daily life. In their sobriety the Gospels tell us nothing about the adolescence of Jesus leaving this task to our loving meditation. Art,  literature and music have walked this path of imagination. Certainly, it is not difficult to imagine how mothers could learn from the attentions of Mary for her Son! And much fathers might derive from the example of Joseph, the just man, who dedicated his life to support and defend the child and his bride - his family - in difficult moments! Not to mention how the young could be encouraged by the adolescent Jesus to understand the need and the beauty of cultivating their deepest vocation, and to dream big! And Jesus grew in those thirty years in the vocation the Father entrusted him with... Jesus was never discouraged, but he grew up with courage to move forward with His mission."

"Each Christian family - as Mary and Joseph did - can first of all welcome Jesus, listen to Him, speak to Him, guard Him, protect Him, grow with Him; and thus improve the world. Let's make space in our hearts and in our days for the Lord. That's what Mary and Joseph did  and it was not easy: how many difficulties they had to overcome! It was not a fake family, an unreal family. The family of Nazareth commits us to rediscover the vocation and mission of the family, of every family. And, just as it happened during those thirty years in Nazareth, so it can happen for us too: to become love - not hatred - normal; to make mutual help - not indifference or hostility - common practice. So it  is no coincidence, then, that "Nazareth" means "the one who holds", like Mary, who - the Gospel says - "kept all these things in her heart" (cf. Lk 2,19.51). Since then, every time there is a family that guards this mystery, be it on the outskirts of the world, the mystery of the Son of God, the mystery of Jesus who comes to save us, is at work. It has come to to save the world. "

"This - he concluded - is the great mission of the family: to make space for Jesus,  to welcome Jesus into the family, in the person of the children, of the husband, of the wife, of the grandparents: Jesus is there. Welcome him, so that the family may grow spiritually. May the Lord give us this grace in these last days before Christmas. Thank you."

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