Giving and mutual forgiveness, without which no love can be lasting, were the theme of the Pope’s catechesis during the pope’s general audience on Wednesday, November 4.
Before examining this issue in depth, the Holy Father recalled that the recently concluded assembly of the Synod of Bishops had reflected at length on the vocation and mission of the family in the life of the Church and in contemporary society. “It was an event of grace. At the end the Synod Fathers submitted to me the text containing their conclusions. I wanted this text to be published, so that everyone could participate in the work we have been devoted to together for two years. This is not the moment to examine the conclusions, on which I myself have to reflect”.
“In the meantime, however, life does not come to a halt, and in particular the live of families does not stop! You, dear families, are always journeying. And you already continually write in the pages of concrete life the beauty of the Gospel of the family. In a world that at times becomes arid of life and love, every day you speak of the great gift that is marriage and the family”.
The Pope went on to introduce the central theme of his catechesis, reciting the words of the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. “It is not possible to live without forgiveness, or at least you cannot live well, especially in the family. Every day we wrong each other. We must take account of these errors that we make due to our fragility and our selfishness. However, what is required of us is to heal the wounds we make straight away, to immediately weave again the threads we have broken. If we wait too long, it all becomes more difficult. And there is a simple secret for healing wounds and undoing accusations: never let the day finish without apologizing. … If we learn to say we are sorry immediately and to offer mutual forgiveness, the wounds are healed, the marriage is strengthened, and the family becomes an increasingly solid home, that resists the shocks of our evils, great and small”.
“If we learn to live this way within the family, we will also do so outside, wherever we find ourselves. It is easy to be skeptical about this. Many – Christians included – think it is an exaggeration. … But thanks to God this is not the case. Indeed, it is precisely by receiving God’s forgiveness that, in turn, we are able to forgive others. … And it is essential that, in an at times pitiless society, there be places such as the family where we can learn to forgive each other”.
“The Synod also revived our hope in this regard: the capacity to forgive others and oneself forms part of the vocation and mission of the family. … The Church, dear families, is always beside you to help you build your home on the rock Jesus spoke of”, exclaimed Francis. “And I assure you that if you are capable of journeying ever more decisively along the path of the Beatitudes, learning and teaching to forgive each other, then in all the great family of the Church the capacity to bear witness to the renewing power of God’s forgiveness will grow”.
“Otherwise, we will give beautiful sermons and perhaps even cast out the odd demon, but in the end the Lord will not recognize us as His disciples, as we have not been able to forgive or to allow ourselves to be forgiven. Christian families can truly do much for today’s society, and also for the Church. … Let us pray that families may be increasingly able to live and build concrete roads to reconciliation, where no-one feels abandoned to the burden of his own trespasses”.
Finally the Pope, accompanied by the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, repeated the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”.