Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) – Hundreds of thousands of people attended the concluding Mass of the Eighth World Meeting of Families celebrated by Pope Francis in Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway yesterday at 4 p.m. local time (10 p.m. in Rome). During the event, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, announced that the next Meeting will be held in Dublin, Ireland in 2018.
In his homily, Pope Francis commented on the two readings of the day's liturgy, which present the scandal of the people before the miracles and the unexpected prophecies. In the first reading, Joshua tells Moses that two members of the people are prophesying, speaking God’s word, without a mandate. In the Gospel, John tells Jesus that the disciples had stopped someone from casting out evil spirits in the name of Jesus. “Here is the surprise”, remarked the Pope. “Moses and Jesus both rebuke those closest to them for being so narrow! Would that all could be prophets of God’s word! Would that everyone could work miracles in the Lord’s name!”
Jesus encountered “hostility from people who did not accept what He said and did. For them, His openness to the honest and sincere faith of many men and women who were not part of God’s chosen people seemed intolerable. The disciples, for their part, acted in good faith. But the temptation to be scandalised by the freedom of God, Who sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike, bypassing bureaucracy, officialdom and inner circles, threatens the authenticity of faith. Hence it must be vigorously rejected. Once we realise this, we can understand why Jesus’ words about causing 'scandal' are so harsh. For Jesus, the truly 'intolerable' scandal consists in everything that breaks down and destroys our trust in the working of the Spirit”.
“Our Father will not be outdone in generosity and He continues to scatter seeds. He scatters the seeds of His presence in our world, for 'love consists in this, not that we have loved God but that He loved us' first. That love gives us a profound certainty: we are sought by God; He waits for us. It is this confidence which makes disciples encourage, support and nurture the good things happening all around them. God wants all His children to take part in the feast of the Gospel. Jesus says, 'Do not hold back anything that is good, instead help it to grow!' To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not 'part of our group', who are not 'like us', is a dangerous temptation. Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith”.
“Faith opens a 'window' to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. 'Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded', says Jesus. These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith”.
“Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, He wants us to encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of His own living and active presence in our world. So we might ask ourselves: How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our societies? What kind of world do we want to leave to our children? We cannot answer these questions alone, by ourselves. It is the Spirit who challenges us to respond as part of the great human family. Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions. The urgent challenge of protecting our home includes the effort to bring the entire human family together in the pursuit of a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. May our children find in us models and incentives to communion! May our children find in us men and women capable of joining others in bringing to full flower all the good seeds which the Father has sown”.
“We Christians, the Lord’s disciples, ask the families of the world to help us!” exclaimed Francis. “How many of us are here at this celebration. This is itself something prophetic, a kind of miracle in today’s world. Would that we could all be prophets. Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world, and thus overcome the scandal of a narrow, petty love, closed in on itself, impatient of others”.
“How beautiful it would be if everywhere, even beyond our borders, we could appreciate and encourage this prophecy and this miracle”, concluded the Holy Father. “May God grant to all of us, as the Lord’s disciples, the grace to be worthy of this purity of heart which is not scandalised by the Gospel”.
Following the Eucharist, Pope Francis gave the Gospel of St. Luke to five families representing the five continents, from, respectively, Kinshasa (Africa), Havana (America), Hanoi (Asia), Syney (Australia) and Marseilles (Europe).