The original and prime purpose of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States was to attend the World meeting of Families in Philadelphia. While the Pope has emphasized the importance of the family throughout his trip, he was in full form last night.
Abandoning his prepared remarks, no doubt to his translator’s chagrin, Pope Francis effusively spoke from the heart about the central role of the family in transmitting God’s beauty, God’s truth and God’s love. Smiling and gesturing wildly as his pace quickened, the Pope spoke of parents who sustain the family through hard work carried out through love; he spoke of children as the future and strength of the family; and he spoke of grandparents as the family’s living memory.
The most poignant part of the Holy Father’s remarks, I think, was when he said that “All of the love that God has in himself, all of the beauty that he has in himself, he gives it to the family. And the family is really family when it is able to open its arms and receive all that love.” To emphasize his point, the Pope asked, “And where did he send his Son – to a palace? To a city? No. He sent him to a family. God sent him amid a family. And he could do this because it was a family that had a truly open heart.”
I couldn’t help but think of my own family while Pope Francis spoke – my wife and daughters, my parents, my brother and sisters, my grandparents, my aunts, uncles and cousins. I am blessed with a large family that has opened its arms to receive God’s love. May we all follow Pope Francis’ plea – “Let’s protect the family, because it is in the family that our future is in play.”