Christ, through his passion and death, has set us free from the slavery of self-centeredness, so that we can better love others, Pope Francis said at Mass for the World Meeting of Families on Saturday.
“Freedom is something we receive. All of us are born with many forms of interior and exterior conditioning, and especially with a tendency to selfishness, to making ourselves the center of everything and being concerned only with our own interests,” the pope said on June 25. “This is the slavery from which Christ has set us free.”
Pope Francis delivered the homily at a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, the Vatican office which co-organized the 10th edition of the World Meeting of Families with the Diocese of Rome.
The gathering, attended by around 2,000 families, had the theme: “Family Love: A Vocation and a Path to Holiness.”
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on a passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: “Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.”
“Freedom,” the pope said, “is one of the most cherished ideals and goals of the people of our time. Everyone wants to be free, free of conditioning and limitations, free of every kind of ‘prison,’ cultural prison, social or economic. Yet, how many people lack the greatest freedom of all, which is interior freedom.”
He also noted that the freedom given by God, as St. Paul says, is not the self-indulgent freedom of the world, but freedom “directed to love, so that — as the Apostle tells us again today — ‘through love you may become slaves of one another.’”
“All of you married couples, in building your family, made, with the help of Christ’s grace, a courageous decision: to use freedom not for yourselves, but to love the persons that God has put at your side,” Pope Francis said.
He advised parents “not to shield our children from the slightest hardship and suffering, but to try to communicate to them a passion for life, the passion to arouse in them the desire to discover their vocation and embrace the great mission that God has in mind for them.”
“Nothing,” he said, “can be more encouraging for children than to see their parents experiencing marriage and family life as a mission, demonstrating fidelity and patience despite difficulties, moments of sadness and times of trial.
“Don’t ever forget this: the family is the first place where you learn to love,” he emphasized.
“In praising the beauty of the family, we also feel compelled, today more than ever, to defend the family,” Pope Francis said. “Let us not allow the family to be poisoned by the toxins of selfishness, individualism, today’s culture of indifference and culture of waste, and as a result lose its very DNA, which is the spirit of acceptance and service.”