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Library of the Apostolic Palace
Sunday, 27 December 2020



Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

A few days after Christmas, the liturgy invites us to turn our eyes to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It is good to reflect on the fact that the Son of God wanted to be in need of the warmth of a family, like all children. Precisely for this reason, because it is Jesus’ family, the family of Nazareth is the model family, in which all families of the world can find their sure point of reference and sure inspiration. In Nazareth, the springtime of the human life of the Son of God began to blossom at the moment he was conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit in the virginal womb of Mary. Within the welcoming walls of the House of Nazareth, Jesus’ childhood unfolded in joy, surrounded by the maternal attention of Mary and the care of Joseph, in whom Jesus was able to see God’s tenderness (cf. Apostolic Letter Patris Corde, 2).

In imitation of the Holy Family, we are called to rediscover the educational value of the family unit: it requires being founded on the love that always regenerates relationships, opening up horizons of hope. Within the family one can experience sincere communion when it is a house of prayer, when affections are serious, profound, pure, when forgiveness prevails over discord, when the daily harshness of life is softened by mutual tenderness and serene adherence to God’s will. In this way, the family opens itself up to the joy that God gives to all those who know how to give joyfully. At the same time, it finds the spiritual energy to be open to the outside world, to others, to  serving brothers and sisters, to cooperation in building an ever new and better world; capable, therefore, of becoming a bearer of positive stimuli; the family evangelizes by the example of life. It is true that  there are problems, and at times arguments in every family. “Father, I  argued...”. But we are human, we are weak, and we all quarrel within the family at times. I will tell you something: if you quarrel within the family, do not end the day without making peace. “Yes, I quarrelled”, but before the end of the day, make peace. And do you know why? Because a cold war, day after day, is extremely dangerous. It does not help. And then, in the family there are three words, three phrases that must always be held dear: “Excuse me”, “Thank you”, and “Sorry”. “Excuse me”, so as not to be intrusive in the life of others. “Excuse me: may I do something? Do you think I can do this? Excuse me”. Always, not being intrusive. “Excuse me”, the first phrase. “Thank you”: so much help, so much service that we do for one another within the family. Always say thank you. Gratitude is the lifeblood of the noble soul. “Thank you”. And then, the hardest one to say: “I am sorry”. Because we always do some bad things and  often someone is offended by this: “I am sorry”, “I am sorry”. Do not forget the three phrases: “excuse me”, “thank you”, and “I am sorry”. If there are these three phrases in a family, in a family environment, then the family is fine.

Today’s feast reminds us of the example of evangelizing with the family, proposing to us once again the ideal of conjugal and family love, as underlined in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, promulgated five years ago this coming 19 March. And there will be a year of reflection on Amoris laetitia and it will be an opportunity to focus more closely on the contents of the document [19 March 2021-June 2022]. These reflections will be made available to ecclesial communities and families, to accompany them on their journey. As of now, I invite everyone to take part in the initiatives that will be promoted throughout the Year and that will be coordinated by the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life. Let us entrust this journey with the families of the whole world to the Holy Family of Nazareth, in particular to Saint Joseph, attentive spouse and father.

May the Virgin Mary, whom we now address with the Angelus prayer, grant that families throughout the world be increasingly fascinated by the evangelical ideal of the Holy Family, so as to become leaven of a new humanity and of a concrete and universal solidarity.

After the Angelus the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters, I greet you all, families, groups and individual faithful, who are following the Angelus prayer via social communications media. My thoughts turn in particular to the families who have lost a loved one or have been affected by the consequences of the pandemic, during these months. I also think of the doctors, nurses and all healthcare professionals whose great commitment on the front line, fighting the spread of the virus, has had significant repercussions on family life.

And today I entrust each family to the Lord, especially those most tried by life’s difficulties and by the scourges of misunderstanding and division. May the Lord, born in Bethlehem, grant them all the serenity and strength to walk together in the way of goodness.

And do not forget these three phrases  that will help so much to achieve family unity: “excuse me” — not to be intrusive, to respect others — “thank you” — to mutually thank each other within the family — and “sorry” when we do something bad. And this “sorry” — or when we quarrel — please say it before the day ends: make peace before the day ends.

I wish you all a happy Sunday and please do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci !

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