Vatican Information Services report that the pilgrimage of
families to Rome as part of the Year of Faith concluded with the Holy Mass
celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, which was crowded with
participants, as were Via della Conciliazione and the adjacent streets.
Below is the full text of the Holy Father's homily,
following the Gospel reading.
“The readings this Sunday invite us to reflect on some basic
features of the Christian family.
“First: the family prays. The Gospel passage speaks about
two ways of praying: one is false – that of the Pharisee – and the other is
authentic – that of the tax collector. The Pharisee embodies an attitude which
does not express thanksgiving to God for his blessings and his mercy, but
rather self-satisfaction. The Pharisee feels himself justified, he feels his
life is in order, he boasts of this, and he judges others from his pedestal.
The tax collector, on the other hand, does not multiply words. His prayer is
humble, sober, pervaded by a consciousness of his own unworthiness, of his own
needs. Here is a man who truly realizes that he needs God’s forgiveness and his
“The prayer of the tax collector is the prayer of the poor
man, a prayer pleasing to God. It is a prayer which, as the first reading says,
'will reach to the clouds', unlike the prayer of the Pharisee, which is weighed
down by vanity.
“In the light of God’s word, I would like to ask you, dear
families: Do you pray together from time to time as a family? Some of you do, I
know. But so many people say to me: But how can we? As the tax collector does,
it is clear: humbly, before God. Each one, with humility, allowing themselves
to be gazed upon by the Lord and imploring his goodness, that he may visit us.
But in the family how is this done? After all, prayer seems to be something
personal, and besides there is never a good time, a moment of peace… Yes, all
that is true enough, but it is also a matter of humility, of realising that we
need God, like the tax collector! And all families, we need God: all of us! We
need his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness. And we
need simplicity to pray as a family: simplicity is necessary! Praying the Our
Father together, around the table, is not something extraordinary: its easy.
And praying the Rosary together, as a family, is very beautiful and a source of
great strength! And also praying for one another! The husband for his wife, the
wife for her husband, both together for their children, the children for their
grandparents ... praying for each other. This is what it means to pray in the
family and it is what makes the family strong: prayer.
“The second reading suggests another thought: the family
keeps the faith. The Apostle Paul, at the end of his life, makes a final
reckoning and says: 'I have kept the faith'. But how did he keep the faith? Not
in a safe! Nor did he hide it underground, like the somewhat lazy servant.
Saint Paul compares his life to a fight and to a race. He kept the faith
because he didn’t just defend it, but proclaimed it, spread it, took it to
distant lands. He stood up to all those who wanted to preserve, to 'embalm' the
message of Christ within the limits of Palestine. That is why he made
courageous decisions, he went into hostile territory, he let himself be challenged
by distant peoples and different cultures, he spoke frankly and fearlessly.
Saint Paul kept the faith because, in the same way that he received it, he gave
it away; he went out to the fringes, and didn’t dig himself into defensive
“Here too, we can ask: How do we keep our faith as a family?
Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure like a
bank account, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of
others, by our openness? We all know that families, especially young families,
are often 'racing' from one place to another, with lots to do. But did you ever
think that this 'racing' could also be the race of faith? Christian families
are missionary families. Yesterday in this square we heard the testimonies of
missionary families. They are missionary also in everyday life, in their doing
everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith!
Keeping the faith in families and bringing to everyday things the salt and the
leaven of faith.
“And one more thought we can take from God’s word: the
family experiences joy. In the responsorial psalm we find these words: 'let the
humble hear and be glad'. The entire psalm is a hymn to the Lord who is the
source of joy and peace. What is the reason for this gladness? It is that the
Lord is near, he hears the cry of the lowly and he frees them from evil. As
Saint Paul himself writes: 'Rejoice always … The Lord is near'. I would like to
ask you all a question today. But each of you keep it in your heart and take it
home. You can regard it as a kind of 'homework'. Only you must answer. How are
things when it comes to joy at home? Is there joy in your family? You can
answer this question.
“Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which
we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material
objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well ... True joy
comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in
our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual
support along life’s journey. But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the
presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is
welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all. And above all, a love which is
patient: patience is a virtue of God and he teaches us how to cultivate it in
family life, how to be patient, and lovingly so, with each other. To be patient
among ourselves. A patient love. God alone knows how to create harmony from
differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony,
self-centred individualism prevails and joy fades. But the family which
experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt
of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a
“Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like
the Holy Family of Nazareth! May the joy and peace of the Lord be always with