Vatican City, 17 December 2014 (VIS) – The family is the “great gift that the Lord has given to the world ever since the beginning, when he entrusted to Adam and Eve the mission of multiplying and filling the earth; the gift that Jesus confirmed and sealed in His Gospel”, said the Holy Father during this Wednesday’s general audience, in the first of the new cycle of catechesis dedicated to the family, which will continue throughout the coming year. The proximity to Christmas illuminates the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God, which opens a new chapter in the universal history of man and woman. “And this new beginning occurs within a family, in Nazareth. He could have come spectacularly, or as a warrior, an emperor… No – he came as the son of a family, in a family”, he emphasised. God chose to be born “in a human family, that He Himself had formed. He created this family in a remote village in the outer reaches of the Roman Empire. Not in Rome, the capital of the Empire, not in a great city, but in an almost invisible and somewhat notorious periphery. This is even noted in the Gospel, almost as if it were a turn of phrase: ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’. Perhaps, in many parts of the world, we too still speak in this way when we hear the name of certain peripheral areas of large cities. And yet, it was precisely there, in the outskirts of the great Empire, that there began the most holy and good story of Jesus among mankind”. “Jesus chose to remain in the periphery for thirty years, during which there is no mention of miracles or healing, of preaching, of crowds who run after him. In Nazareth, everything seems to happen ‘normally’, according to the habits of a pious and hard-working family of Israelites. … The Gospels, in their sobriety, say nothing of Jesus’ adolescence and leave this task to our affectionate imaginings. Art, literature and music have followed the path of the imagination. Certainly, it is not difficult to imagine how much mothers could learn from Mary’s tender care for her Son! And how much fathers could benefit from the example of Joseph, a righteous man, who dedicated his life to supporting and defending his wife and child – is family – through difficult times. To say nothing of how much the young could be encouraged by the adolescent Jesus in understanding the necessity and beauty of cultivating their deepest vocation, and of having great dreams”, he added. “Every Christian family – as Mary and Joseph did – must first welcome Jesus, listen to Him, speak with Him, shelter Him, protect Him, grow with Him; and in this way, make the world better. Let us make space in our heart and in our days for the Lord. This is what Mary and Joseph did, and it was not easy: how many difficulties they had to overcome! It was not a false or unreal family. The family of Nazareth calls to us to rediscover the vocation and the mission of the family, of every family. And so what happened in those thirty years in Nazareth can also happen to us: making love, not hate, normal; mutual help common, instead of indifference and hostility. It is not by chance that Nazareth means ‘she who preserves’, like Mary who, as the Gospel tells us, ‘treasured all these things in her heart’. From then on, whenever there is a family that preserves this mystery, even if it should be at the outer reaches of the world, the mystery of the Son of God is at work. And He comes to save the world”….