3. Thus the mystery of Nazareth teaches every family to beget and raise its own children, marvellously co-operating with the Creator's work and giving the world, in every child, a new smile.

It is in united families that children grow up and experience the most important, the richest moments of gratuitous love, fidelity, mutual respect and the defence of life.

May today's families look to the Family of Nazareth in order to draw the appropriate criteria for life's daily choices from the example of Mary and Joseph, lovingly dedicated to the care of the incarnate Word! In the light of the teaching learned at this incomparable school, every family will be able to find its way on the path towards the fulfilment of God's plan.




After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father said:


On the occasion of the Feast of the Holy Family, I would like to point out an interesting social project called: "Set an extra place at the table". People who are lonely, in difficulty or homeless are invited on New Year's Eve by host families who open the doors of their homes to them. Promoted by the Milan Observatory, this initiative has also spread to Rome and elsewhere: I warmly hope that the number of those who adopt it will increase, not only to offer those in need a more peaceful day, but in this way to start a friendship and fruitful collaboration with them.


I now greet the altar servers of St Laurence Parish in Chiavenna and the Confraternity of Our Lady of Grace in Artena, who have accompanied a group of handicapped children here.


I wish everyone a good Sunday and a serene continuation of their Christmas holidays. Speaking extemporaneously, the Holy Father then greeted the Lebanese and families:


Long live Lebanon!


My best wishes to all the families of Castel Gandolfo, Rome and the whole world. Enjoy the rest of the day! Praised be Jesus Christ.





Feast of the Holy Family
Sunday, 30 December 2001


1. Today we shift our gaze from the grotto of Bethlehem where the Saviour was born on Holy Night to the humble house of Nazareth, to contemplate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, whose feast we celebrate in the festive, family atmosphere of Christmas.


The Redeemer of the world chose the family as the place for his birth and growth, thereby sanctifying this fundamental institution of every society. The time he spent in Nazareth, the greater part of his life, continues to be shrouded in deep silence. Very little information about it has been passed on to us by the Evangelists. However, if we aspire to a deeper understanding of Jesus' life and mission, we must draw close to the mystery of the Holy Family of Nazareth to observe and listen. Today's liturgy offers us a providential opportunity to do so.

2. For every believer, and especially for Christian families, the humble dwelling place in Nazareth is an authentic school of the Gospel. Here we admire, put into practice, the divine plan to make the family an intimate community of life and love; here we learn that every Christian family is called to be a small "domestic church" that must shine with the Gospel virtues. Recollection and prayer, mutual understanding and respect, personal discipline and community asceticism and a spirit of sacrifice, work and solidarity are typical features that make the family of Nazareth a model for every home.


I wanted to highlight these values in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio whose 20th anniversary occurred this year. The future of humanity passes through the family which in our time has been more marked than any other institution by the profound and rapid changes in culture and society. However, the Church has never ceased "to speak and offer her help to those who are already aware of the value of marriage and the family and seek to live it faithfully, to those who are uncertain and anxious and searching for the truth, and to those who are unjustly impeded from living freely their family lives" (Familiaris consortio, n. 1). She is aware of her responsibility and today too intends to continue "to offer her services to every person who wonders about the destiny of marriage and the family" (ibid.).

The Church relies especially on the witness and contribution of Christian families to fulfil her urgent mission. Indeed, in the face of the dangers and difficulties that beset the family institution, she invites families to have greater spiritual and apostolic boldness, knowing that the family is called to be "a sign of unity for the world" and thus to bear witness to "the Kingdom and peace of Christ, towards which the whole world is journeying" (ibid., n. 48).


May Jesus, Mary and Joseph bless and protect all the world's families, so that within them may reign the serenity and joy, justice and peace that the newborn Christ has given as a gift to humanity.




After leading the prayer of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims from various regions of Italy, and said: 


Tomorrow at 6.00 p.m. in St Peter's Basilica, I will preside at the celebration of Vespers with the solemn Te Deum of thanksgiving. Every year brings its joys and sorrows, problems and new prospects. I invite everyone to end the year 2001 thanking God and leaving behind all enmity, so as to begin 2002 in the peace and love of Christ. This is my wish for everyone, which I entrust to the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth.




Sunday, 26 December 2004


1. Today, the Feast of St Stephen gives way to the Feast of the Holy Family. The Son of God prepared himself to carry out his redeeming mission, living a hard-working and hidden life in the holy house of Nazareth. Thus, united by his Incarnation with every man and woman (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 22), he was able to sanctify human families.

2. May the Holy Family, which had to endure many painful trials, watch over all the families of the world, especially those in conditions of hardship. May it likewise help the people of culture and political leaders to defend the family institution founded on marriage and to support families as they face the serious challenges of our time.

3. In this "Year of the Eucharist", may Christian families rediscover the light and strength to journey on in unity and especially, through persevering participation in the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist, to develop as "domestic churches" (Lumen Gentium, n. 11). Mary, Queen of the Family, pray for us!


After the Angelus:

The Christmas Feast has been saddened by the news from Southeast Asia of the violent seaquake that has struck Indonesia with consequences in other Countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Maldives.

Let us pray for the victims of this terrible tragedy and assure all who are suffering of our solidarity, as we express the hope that the international community will do all it can to bring relief to the affected populations.


Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.     




St Peter's Square
Sunday, 30 December 2007


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


Today, we are celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family. As we follow the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, let us fix our gaze on Jesus, Mary and Joseph and adore the mystery of a God who chose to be born of a woman, the Blessed Virgin, and to enter this world in the way common to all humankind. By so doing he sanctified the reality of the family, filling it with divine grace and fully revealing its vocation and mission. The Second Vatican Council dedicated much attention to the family. Married partners, it said, must be witnesses of faith to each other and to their children (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 35). The Christian family thus shares in the Church's prophetic vocation:  with its way of living it "proclaims aloud both the present power of the Kingdom of God and the hope of the blessed life" (ibid.). Then, as my venerable Predecessor John Paul II tirelessly repeated, the good of the person and of society is closely connected to the "healthy state" of the family (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 47). The Church, therefore, is committed to defending and to fostering "the dignity and supremely sacred value of the married state" (ibid.). To this end, an important event is being held in Madrid this very day, whose participants I now address in Spanish.



I greet the participants in the Meeting for Families that is taking place in Madrid this Sunday, together with the Cardinals, Bishops and priests who have accompanied them. In contemplating the mystery of the Son of God who came into the world surrounded by the love of Mary and Joseph, I ask Christian families to experience the loving presence of the Lord in their lives. I likewise encourage them, drawing inspiration from Christ's love for humanity, to bear witness to the world of the beauty of human love, marriage and the family. Founded on the indissoluble union between a man and a woman, the family constitutes the privileged context in which human life is welcomed and protected from its beginning to its natural end. Thus, parents have the right and the fundamental obligation to raise their children in the faith and values which give dignity to human life. It is worthwhile working for the family and marriage because it is worthwhile working for the human being, God's most precious creature. I have a special word for children, so that they may love and pray for their fathers and mothers and their siblings; to young people, so that encouraged by their parents' love, they may follow generously their own vocation to marriage, priestly or religious life; to the elderly and the sick, so that they may find needed help and understanding. And you, dear spouses, may you always count on God's grace so that your love may be increasingly fruitful and faithful every day. I entrust the outcome of this celebration to the hands of Mary, who "with her "yes' she opened the door of our world to God" (Spe Salvi, n. 49). Many thanks and happy holidays!


Let us now turn to the Blessed Virgin, praying for the good of the family and for all the families in the world.


After the Angelus: 


I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. Today, in the heart of the Christmas Season, the Church celebrates the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. May the mystery of God's love, made incarnate in the Child Jesus and reflected in the home of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth, dwell in your hearts and in your families throughout the coming year. Upon all of you I invoke an abundance of Christmas joy and peace!







St Peter's Square
Feast of St Stephen, Protomartyr
Sunday, 26 December 2010



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


The Gospel according to Luke recounts that when the shepherds of Bethlehem had received the Angel’s announcement of the Messiah’s birth “they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (2:16). The first eyewitnesses of Jesus’ birth therefore beheld a family scene: a mother, a father and a newborn son. For this reason the Liturgy has us celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family on the First Sunday after Christmas. This year it occurred the very day after Christmas, and, taking precedence over the Feast of St Stephen, invites us to contemplate this “icon” in which the little Jesus appears at the centre of his parents’ affection and care.


In the poor grotto of Bethlehem — the Fathers of the Church wrote — shines a very bright light, a reflection of the profound mystery which envelopes that Child, which Mary and Joseph cherish in their hearts and which can be seen in their expression, in their actions, and especially in their silence. Indeed, they preserve in their inmost depths the words of the Angel’s Annunciation to Mary: “the Child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).



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