The importance of family togetherness was the heart of Pope Francis message to thousands of pilgrims gathered for the Weekly General Audience on Wednesday.
“In family life we learn about togetherness from a young age, which is a very beautiful virtue the family teaches us to share, with joy, the blessings of life,” he said.
He explained that the most concrete sign of this togetherness is when families are “gathered around the household table.”
He stressed that the dinner table is a key place to build up family bonds and foster a sense of “togetherness,” which he said can often be thwarted by an excess attachment to technology.
“A family that almost never eats together, or that never speaks at the table but looks at the television or the smartphone, is hardly a family,” he said.
Togetherness, he said, is a “sure thermometer” to measure the quality of family relationships, since “in the family, if something is wrong, or if there’s some hidden wound, at the table you see it right away.”
The Pope said that Christians have a special calling to live the virtue of togetherness, and recalled how Jesus made a point to eat with his friends, and even presented the Kingdom of God as a joyful banquet.
Though the synod had concluded, the Pope continued his reflections on themes related to family life. After speaking on the importance of forgiveness last week, today he turned to the importance of family “togetherness.”
“Sitting at table for the family dinner, sharing our meal and the experiences of our day, is a fundamental image of togetherness and solidarity,” he said, explaining that food isn’t the only thing shared at the table, but also affection and the happy and sad events of the day.
Because Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a meal, there is a close relationship between families and the Mass.
The celebration of the Eucharist is the place where families, drawing from their own experience, open themselves to the grace of “universal togetherness and a fraternity without borders,” he said.
Francis said that the togetherness we experience within our own families and in the family of the Church is meant to extend to everyone as a sign of God’s universal love.
He expressed sadness over how the family meal, the great symbol of togetherness, is disappearing in some societies,” and noted that food itself “is deliberately wasted” in some places, while in others many of our brothers and sisters go hungry.