This week Pope Francis will be attending the World Meeting of Families in Ireland, a special time to reflect on the importance of family life and the role of families in the Church and world.
A few years ago Pope Francis gave some great advice to families that remains a powerful piece of wisdom. He said in a homily, “If families can say these three things, they will be fine. ‘Sorry,’ ‘excuse me,’ ‘thank you.’ How often do we say ‘thank you’ in our families? How often do we say ‘thank you’ to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? All too often we take everything for granted!”
How true is that! Let’s dwell upon those three phrases.
As humans we tend to be prideful. We don’t like to admit when we have done something wrong. This pride has a tendency to drive wedges in our families that are often never resolved. We can hold a grudge for 50 years and never give it up, always accusing another person of the wrongdoing and not admitting any fault. What good does that do!
However, how many families could be reunited if one or both of the parities involved simply said, “sorry,” even if the incident was decades ago? We could spend the remainder of our lives as a united family, instead of a divided one.
This may seem like a strange phrase to add, but it is also important. Too often we don’t ask permission for anything and this can put a strain on many relationships in the family. We can get in the “take” mindset and simply take whatever we see, without any thought to the needs of other people.
By asking permission before hand, it can eliminate the need to say “sorry” later on.
Saying “thank you” is such an important act to do. Most of all we should not only think about saying it, but actually say it! Pope Francis brought this subject up again during a separate homily. He said, “To be able to offer thanks, to be able to praise the Lord for what he has done for us: this is important! So we can ask ourselves: Are we capable of saying ‘Thank you’? How many times do we say ‘Thank you’ in our family, our community, and in the Church? How many times do we say ‘Thank you’ to those who help us, to those close to us, to those who accompany us through life? Often we take everything for granted! This also happens with God. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to return and give thanks… That is why Jesus so emphasizes the failure of the nine ungrateful lepers: ‘Were not 10 made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ (Lk 17:17-18).”
The true hallmark of a Christian is that we realize everything is a gift! All that we see around us has been given to us by God, most especially our families! This is why the richest and the poorest in the world all have reasons to thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon them.
Let us reflect on our family relationships this week and consider ways we can help repair any damage so that the family can remain a strong pillar of society.