Private audience for the sending of thirty-six families for the “New Evangelization” December 27, 1987
St. John Paul II
Feast of the Holy Family. Castel Gandolfo, December 27, 1987
Thirty-six families, belonging to various Neocatechumenal Communities, have received from the hands of the Pope the crucifix that will accompany those who are about to leave in the various places of mission. The simple handing over ceremony has taken place on Sunday morning, December 27, in the Hall of the Swiss of the Pontifical Palace of Castel Gandolfo as a continuation of the Pope’s Marian encounter with the faithful for the prayer of the Angelus.
The Pope addressed the following words to the families present:
«Dear friends: I thank you for your visit to Castel Gandolfo on such a significant day within the Christmas festivities. Christmas is celebrated with great liturgical solemnity, also with great joy and public participation; but we might not realize enough what Christmas means.
Christmas is the beginning of a mission, a divine mission among men: God who is born as son of man, from a woman, is an envoy of the Father, of the heavenly Father, and is born to fulfill this mission. Today’s feast comes immediately after Christmas: the Holy Family. This is very significant, it means that this divine mission, made human by the incarnation of the Word of God, that this mission is entrusted, first of all, to the family.
I see in this meeting and in the development of your Neocatechumenal Way, the same as in the missionary project entrusted to various families – not to specific individuals, but to entire families – I see put into effect and realized this significant event that belongs to the History of Salvation, to the history of the divine mission within the whole human family, among men, within the entire human race. I wish you participate in this divine mission entrusted to the Holy Family in your families, especially in these families, a faithful reflection of what God wanted the human family to be and which He has shown us in the Holy Family of Nazareth.
The mission is called “ad extra” which means “go”, “train”, which is what Jesus said to his apostles at the end of his messianic mission on this earth. The Second Vatican Council says very well that the Twelve were representatives of all of New Israel, including – naturally – the family that is the cell of all people, of the new and the old Israel. In this way, its mission must involve families: this is what we try to discover because it was a little hidden, not valued enough, not sufficiently put into practice, even though there are very good traditions of the Christian family in the Church; but this missionary characteristic is a certain novelty. The end of your movement, or better of your way, tries justly to rediscover this missionary aspect of the family: the Church in “status missionis ”, the entire Church being missionary, the family in “status missionis. ”
I wish you to walk – to walk means to move – well along this road that you have found on the Neocatechumenal Way.
I wish to give a blessing to everyone here present, to those who are preparing for a mission in faraway countries, perhaps not so far geographically, but many times spiritually far; far from faith, from the Christian vision of life.
This is the mission of families: in order to bring a faraway family closer, the presence of families, the witness of families, the apostolate of families is necessary ».