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Monday, October 5, 2015

“The man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved”

Vatican City, 4 October 2015 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father presided at the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world”. In his homily, the bishop of Rome commented on the Biblical texts of this 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, noting that they focus on “three themes: solitude, love between man and woman, and the family”.

Regarding solitude, he spoke of Adam's dominion over all the other creatures in the Garden of Eden, “a sign of his dominion, his clear and undisputed power”. Nonetheless, “he felt alone, because 'there was not found a helper fit for him'”. Loneliness, said the Pope, “is experienced by countless men and women in our own day. I think of the elderly, abandoned even by their loved ones and children; widows and widowers; the many men and women left by their spouses; all those who feel alone, misunderstood and unheard; migrants and refugees fleeing from war and persecution; and those many young people who are victims of the culture of consumerism, the culture of waste, the throwaway culture”.

“Today we experience the paradox of a globalised world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families; many ambitious plans and projects, but little time to enjoy them... Our experience today is, in some way, like that of Adam: so much power and at the same time so much loneliness and vulnerability. The image of this is the family. People are less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad. Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past”.

In the first reading we hear that God was pained by Adam’s loneliness, and resolved to make him a helper fit for him. “These words show that nothing makes man’s heart as happy as another heart like his own, a heart which loves him and takes away his sense of being alone. These words also show that God did not create us to live in sorrow or to be alone. He made men and women for happiness, to share their journey with someone who complements them, to live the wondrous experience of love: to love and to be loved, and to see their love bear fruit in children, as today’s Psalm says. This is God’s dream for His beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self”.

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder”, said the Pope, turning to the theme of the family. “This is an exhortation to believers to overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan. Indeed, only in the light of the folly of the gratuitousness of Jesus’ paschal love will the folly of the gratuitousness of an exclusive and life-long conjugal love make sense”.

“For God, marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures will be doomed to solitude”, he continued. “Indeed, being afraid to accept this plan paralyses the human heart. Paradoxically, people today – who often ridicule this plan – continue to be attracted and fascinated by every authentic love, by every steadfast love, by every fruitful love, by every faithful and enduring love. We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love; they chase after carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving”.

“In this extremely difficult social and marital context, the Church is called to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love. To carry out her mission in fidelity to her Master as a voice crying out in the desert, in defending faithful love and encouraging the many families which live married life as an experience which reveals of God’s love; in defending the sacredness of life, of every life; in defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously”.

“To carry out her mission in truth, which is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions. The truth which protects individuals and humanity as a whole from the temptation of self-centredness and from turning fruitful love into sterile selfishness, faithful union into temporary bonds. … To carry out her mission in charity, not pointing a finger in judgement of others, but – faithful to her nature as a mother – conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a 'field hospital' with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support”.

Francis recalled St. John Paul II who said: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved”, and added “The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock: 'For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why He is not ashamed to call them brethren'”.

“In this spirit”, he concluded, “we ask the Lord to accompany us during the Synod and to guide His Church, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse”.

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