This week the Ninth World Meeting of Families will be held in Dublin, Ireland, on the theme The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World. This will be the first world meeting of families since the release of the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” of Pope Francis.
In his letter of preparation for this week’s gathering, Pope Francis outlined what he hopes the meeting will accomplish: “I wish to underline how important it is for families to ask themselves often if they live based on love, for love and in love. In practice, this means giving oneself, forgiving, not losing patience, anticipating the other, respecting. How much better family life would be if every day we lived according to the words, ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’. Every day we have the experience of fragility and weakness, and therefore we all, families and pastors, are in need of renewed humility that forms the desire to form ourselves, to educate and be educated, to help and be helped, to accompany, discern and integrate all men of good will.”
The Pope also expressed his hopes that the gathering in Dublin would encourage the Church to constantly look outward, and become less self-referential. Alluding to the parable of the Good Samaritan, Pope Francis indicated that the World Meeting of Families would give evidence that the Church does not merely pass by or overlook the wounds that families are suffering from, but desires to be ever-present with the promise of God’s mercy. While many wounds in individual families and in our wider Church family require attention and healing, may the experience of being gathered together this week with so many other believers around the Successor of Saint Peter confirm participants in their Catholic faith and embolden them to witness tirelessly to the gospel of mercy.