A Radical Invitation

In the Gospel a few weeks ago, we heard Jesus say to aa deaf man, “Ephphatha” or “Be Opened.” This past week in Philly, Pope Francis has been echoing those same words. Those words have the same power today; sometimes I am the one who is closed off, even a little “deaf.” As the World Meeting of Families concludes, and the pilgrims head home, what can we take away from the Holy Father’s invitation to openness? Here are five areas the Pope is inviting families, really, all of us to investigate.

Open to the Spirit

In the readings of the closing Mass, we see “others” being open to the Spirit and building the kingdom through prophecy and driving out demons. In both cases, Jesus’ and Moses’ followers are intimidated and tattletale on the outsiders. “Moses and Jesus both rebuke those closest to them for being so narrow! Would that all could be prophets…(and) work miracles”, according to the Pope. God’s Spirit is not directed by us. Let’s be docile to where the Holy Spirit is leading, even if that is through an unexpected event or person prompting us to step out in faith.

Open to Little Gestures

In his remarks, Pope Francis reminds families of their beauty by “being family”. He references the little things that mothers, fathers, and grandparents do on behalf of their children. The bedtime blessings with children, making dinner, doing laundry, or other “homely gestures” all make an impact and reveal God’s presence in the world. These sacrifices, although often unnoticed, teach kids the way of love. Let us be open to serve humbly, in small acts of kindness.

Families Open to Other Families

Before his visit to the U.S., the Pope asked all parishes to welcome and support at least one refugee family escaping violence and insecurity. He continued that call at the World Meeting of Families; that families are open to one another. “Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world, and thus overcome the scandal of a narrow, petty love, closed in on itself, impatient of others!” Personally, it’s sometimes difficult to be honest and open about the tornados that occur in my family. We were meant to weather the storm together and as the Holy Father said let’s “ask the families of the world to help us out.”

Open With our Failures

There is “no such thing as a perfect family” according to the Pope. It does not exist. “This must not discourage us. Quite the opposite.” Rather take courage, because families are a work in progress (Philippians 1:6). That gives my family hope. I no longer have to pretend that we are without struggle and hardship. There is freedom in knowing I need God’s help, especially when I am fighting with my wife or lose my temper with my kids. He is “with us” to help through it all. To quote the songwriter Leonard Cohen, “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Open to Risk

Over and over Pope Francis invites us to “stake everything” and “not hold anything back” in our mission to love. Going all-in is not easy, but it is fulfilling and life-giving. The Holy Father reminds us that it can mean taking up our cross. “I think of all those parents, all those families who lack employment or workers’ rights…families which lack housing…or basics to be able to build bonds of closeness, security and protection.” He is calling us to be open to building a society that supports and serves families, which will only happen when we are willing to give everything in love.

Would you join me in opening our minds and hearts, and heeding Pope Francis’ call? Who is God’s Spirit trying to speak through that you have written off? Is the Spirit moving you in a new way to action? Who are we being called to open our lives to as a family? This openness to love will move us to a mission. Love is the way and the destination.


Image via FlickrCC 2.0 Logo added 

About the Author

Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd is the Director of the Marriage & Family Life office for the Archdiocese of Portland. After a dozen years in parish youth ministry, he is transitioning to serving families and marriages. He yearns to share the radical call of Jesus and help build His Kingdom. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering, a MA in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, founded Rise UP PDX Ministries, and is the current ringmaster of the Kidd Family circus. Jason married his high school sweetheart, and they have four amazing children. Twitter: @J6Kidds Blogs:

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