At the final Mass closing out the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, Pope Francis warned against narrowing God’s love and works to only a certain group of people.
“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 the group’, who are not ‘like us’, is a dangerous temptation,” the Holy Father said Sept. 27.
“Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of the faith!”
In the day’s Mass readings, Pope Francis pointed out, both Moses and Jesus rebuked their followers for the same reason: trying to put limits on God’s works. Joshua told Moses that people were prophesying without a mandate and John reported that the disciples had put a stop to people casting out demon’s in Christ’s name.
“Would that we could all be prophets!” he said, “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.”
“But the temptation to be scandalized by the freedom of God, who sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike, by passing bureaucracy, officialdom and inner circles, threatens the authenticity of faith.”
Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States culminated in his stop in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. While there, he made an unscheduled visit with five survivors of sexual abuse.
His visit also included a trip to New York where he addressed the United Nations and Washington, D.C. where he was the first pope to speak to a joint meeting of Congress.
He will travel back to the Vatican where next week Bishops will convene for the much anticipated Synod on the Family.
The Holy Father praised all the families who came to the meeting calling it “something prophetic, a kind of miracle in today’s world.”
Family life is so important because it is full of “little gestures” that make up a vibrant faith life.
Hugs after an absence, a warm meal shared at the end of the day, evening prayers and the like teach us love, which is why we call the family the “true domestic churches.”
Although these small acts of love that are learned in the family often get lost in daily life, they still make a difference in each day.
“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.
He said that as seen in today’s readings, “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.”
In this vein we should 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?”
“Sterile divisions” can no longer be tolerated because we now face an “urgent challenge of protecting our home.”
Therefore, he said, Christians are asking other families of the world for help in spreading love and generosity.
“Anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil – a family which shows that the Spirit is alive and at work – will encounter our gratitude and our appreciation,” he said. “Whatever the family, people, region, or religion to which they belong!”
Speaking briefly off the cuff, he said: “I will leave you with a question. In your house do people yell, or do you speak with love or affection or kindness?”
“This is a good way to measure our love.”