Become a source of encouragement for others

At the conclusion of this World Meeting of Families, we gather as a family around the table of the Lord. We thank the Lord for the many blessings received in our families.

Aug 31, 2018

DUBLIN: Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ homily at the closing Mass for the World Meeting of Families held in Dublin on August 26, 2018.

You have the words of eternal life! ( Jn 6:68).

At the conclusion of this World Meeting of Families, we gather as a family around the table of the Lord. We thank the Lord for the many blessings received in our families. We want to commit ourselves to live fully our vocation to be, according to the touching words of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus, “love in the heart of the Church”.

In this precious moment of communion with one another and with the Lord, it is good to pause and consider the source of all the good things we have received. Jesus reveals the origin of these blessings in today’s Gospel, when he speaks to his disciples. Many of them were upset, confused and even angry, debated whether to accept his “harsh words”, so contrary to the wisdom of this world. In reply, the Lord tells them directly: “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” ( Jn 6:63).

These words, with their promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit, are overflowing with life for us who welcome them in faith.

They indicate the ultimate source of all the good that we have experienced and celebrated here in these days: the Spirit of God, who constantly breathes new life on the world, in hearts, in families, in homes and in parishes. Every new day in the life of our families, and every new generation, brings with it the promise of a new Pentecost, a domestic Pentecost, a new outpouring of the Spirit, the Paraclete, which Jesus sends us as our Advocate, our Comforter and the One who really gives us courage.

How much does the world need of this encouragement which is God’s gift and promise! As one of the fruits of this celebration of family life, may you return to your homes and become a source of encouragement for others, to share with them “the words of eternal life” of Jesus. In fact, your families are both a privileged place and a an important means to spread those words as “good news” for everyone, especially for those who wish to leave the desert and the “house of slavery” (cf. Gal 24:17) to go to the promised land of hope and freedom.

In today’s second reading, St Paul tells us that marriage is a participation in the mystery of Christ’s perennial fidelity to his bride, the Church (cf. Eph 5:32). However, this teaching, although magnificent, can appear to someone as a “hard word”. Living in love, as Christ loved us (cf. Eph 5,2), involves the imitation of his own self-sacrifice, involves dying to ourselves to be reborn to a greater and more lasting love. That love alone can save the world from the slavery of sin, from selfishness, from greed and indifference towards the needs of the less fortunate. This is the love we have known in Jesus Christ. It has become incarnate in our world through a family; and through the witness of Christian families in every generation, it has the power to break every barrier to reconcile the world with God and make of us what we have always been destined to be: a single human family that lives together in justice, holiness and peace.

The task of bearing witness to this Good News is not easy. However, the challenges facing Christians today are, in their own way, no less difficult than those faced by the first Irish missionaries. I think of San Colombano, who with his small group of comrades brought the light of the Gospel to European lands in an era of darkness and cultural decadence. Their extraordinary missionary success was not based on tactical methods or strategic plans, no, but on a humble and liberating docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It was their daily testimony of fidelity to Christ and among them that conquered the hearts that ardently desired a word of grace and which contributed to the birth of European culture.

Naturally, there will always be people who will oppose the Good News, which will “murmur” against his “harsh words”.

However, like San Colombano and his companions, who faced icy waters and stormy seas to follow Jesus, let us never let ourselves be influenced or discouraged by the icy gaze of indifference or the stormy winds of hostility.

However, we humbly recognise that if we are honest with ourselves, we can also find the teachings of Jesus hard. How hard it is always to forgive those who hurt us! What a challenge it is always to welcome the migrant and the stranger!

How painful it is to endure disappointment, rejection, betrayal! How uncomfortable it is to protect the rights of the most frail, the unborn or the older, which seem to disturb our sense of freedom.

However, it is precisely in those circumstances that the Lord asks us: “Do you also want to go away?” ( Jn 6:67). With the power of the Spirit that encourages us and with the Lord always at our side, we can answer: “We have believed and known that you are the Holy One of God” (verse 69). With the people of Israel, we can repeat: “We will serve the Lord, for he is our God” ( Josh 24:18).

With the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, every Christian is sent to be a missionary, a “missionary disciple” (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 120). The Church as a whole is called to “go out” to bring the words of eternal life to the peripheries of the world. May this our celebration of today confirm each of you, parents and grandparents, children and young people, men and women, brothers and sisters, contemplatives and missionaries, deacons and priests and bishops, in sharing the joy of the Gospel! May you share the Gospel of the family as a joy for the world!

In preparing ourselves to take, each one of us our own way, let us renew our fidelity to the Lord and to the vocation to which he has called each of us. By making our prayer of St Patrick, we repeat each one with joy: “Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ beside me, Christ below me, Christ above me” [repeats it in Gaelic]. With the joy and strength conferred by the Holy Spirit, let us confidently say to him: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” ( Jn 6:68).... -- ICN

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