by Elise Harris
-- Pope Francis spoke today about Jesus’ choice to be born into a family, saying that it shows the importance of the vocation, which Mary and Joseph epitomized through their everyday holiness.
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“We can learn so much from Mary and Joseph, and especially from their love for Jesus. They help us to rediscover the vocation and mission of the family, of every family,” the Roman Pontiff told pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his Dec. 17 general audience.
Jesus, he noted, “was raised in an atmosphere of religious devotion (and) he learned from the words and example of Mary and Joseph.”
In his second catechesis on the family, Pope Francis revealed that in preparation for next year’s ordinary synod of bishops on the family, the entire year’s weekly catechesis would be dedicated to that theme.
Advent, he said, is a time of prayerful expectation for the Lord’s coming, and it invites each person to think about how the family, God’s gift since the beginning of creation, is honored and confirmed through Christ’s incarnation.
“The closeness of Christmas reminds us that God wanted to be born into a family, in a small, remote village of the Roman Empire,” the Pope explained, noting how Jesus remained “in the bosom of a pious, working” family in Nazareth for close to 30 years before starting his public ministry.
Although the gospels don’t say much about Jesus’ childhood, it’s safe to assume that Jesus led a very normal family life, he said, noting how the Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus grew “in wisdom, age and grace” and learned from Mary and Joseph.
“Among other activities of everyday life, (Jesus) was dedicated to the fulfillment of social and religious duties: working with Joseph, listening to Scripture and praying the psalms,” the Bishop of Rome said, noting how Mary and Joseph “welcomed Jesus with love” despite having to overcome many difficulties for him.
“His was not an unrealistic family, a fable,” the pontiff said, explaining that Mary and Joseph are a prime example of how to live the mission and vocation of family life, particularly in the love they had for Jesus.
Pope Francis then called on every Christian family to make a place for Jesus in their home, because “it is through the love of such ‘normal’ families that God’s Son quietly comes to dwell among us, bringing salvation to our world.”
The Roman Pontiff concluded by praying that each family would have the desire to welcome Jesus with pure and grateful hearts.
He then greeted pilgrims present from numerous countries around the world and gave his blessing.
After the audience, tango dancers lined via della Conciliazione, the street leading up to St. Peter’s, as well as the square itself in order to honor the Pope for this 78th birthday.