On 24th April 2022, the meeting of the members of the New Families Movement, the first since the pandemic broke out, was coming to and end. There was a large group of participants present at the Mariapolis Centre in Castelgandolfo and many others linked via streaming around the world. Margaret Karram, President of the Focolare Movement, addressed them. Here is part of her talk.
First, I want to thank you for what you do, because in the midst of so many challenges and sufferings, experienced in the family and in the social realities of each country, you are a sign of hope. You are a tangible certainty that goodness exists and that it is alive and is spreading.
And perhaps no one more than you, who are ‘family,’ are aware how necessary it is today to let every person know that goodness still exists, that it has not died under the rubble of absurd conflicts which are destroying entire peoples. This goodness has not been crushed by a pandemic that has extinguished the hopes of our children and young people, a pandemic that has caused an increase in separations and divorces and has brought with it a considerable increase in domestic violence. Nor should we forget the additional suffering of those who have disabled children at home; or the pain of those who have lost grandparents, relatives... even those far away, without being able to say goodbye. In short, the pandemic has struck right to the heart of the family.
The family, the fundamental nucleus of society, today more than ever has great value. It can save our societies. The family brings with it a mission: that of rebuilding humanity.
Back in 1988, John Paul II, known as “the Pope of the family”, said that “Every human family, every Christian family, is on a mission (...) And this mission is fundamental for every people, for the whole of humanity. It is the mission of love and life; it is the testimony of love and life.”
This, then, is God’s call today to all of us who are part of a family, whether natural or spiritual: to bring life and love, back into the world and to proclaim it, declare it, make it visible, and bear witness to it in an infinite number of ways.
Hence this is the meaning of the commitment you are making or reconfirming with God during this retreat.
I really like the title you have chosen for these days: “Committed to God, committed with God to make a divine mosaic.” That is truly beautiful.
It is a commitment, a mission that starts from your heart and is expressed through your union, but then opens the doors of your home and reaches out to those who are defined, nowadays, as the “least” and the “discarded”.
This is the family that the world needs today!
A family made up of people whose hearts are totally open, who know how to welcome and contain every kind of pain, every expression of humanity today, even the most unexpected and often distressing ones present within, as well as outside, our families.
Only by welcoming and offering everyone the possibility of being reborn, even after the worst disaster, do we give this ‘mosaic of humanity,’ a chance to be reborn in a richer and more inclusive way. And to be more of a ‘community’ I would say, precisely because it is helped by those who, like you, know how to transform suffering into deeds of love on a daily basis.
But I would like to ask you a question. What does it mean for you, for each of you, to make a personal commitment to God? What does this “pact with the Almighty” look like?
It is a question that we all asked ourselves when we first chose to follow God. But it is not a question that we ask once and for all. We need to ask ourselves again and again and I’m saying this from my personal experience. Coming to see you now, and seeing the title of this meeting, I asked myself this very question, so many years after my first “yes.” And the answer I gave myself is certainly different because my life has been enriched with many experiences, meeting different people and encounters with new aspects of pain and suffering.
Over the years, God never forsakes us. Instead, He calls us to an ever-closer dialogue and intimacy with Him; He calls us to listen to Him in the cries of our brothers and sisters, to love each one with renewed strength and creativity, helping them to fulfil His great plan of love for us and for all humanity. So, for me too, on the way here, I said “Truly, my first yes, my first commitment to God, is not the same now; it is different today.” Now, meeting with you, it will be different again because I commit with you. It will be another new yes.
The very fact that you are here in these days shows your serious intention to reconfirm your commitment to God, in a world that offers no alternatives to the fear that grips so many children, adolescents and young people, them above all. It offers no prospects for work or for growth, and that, if we look at it only from a human point of view, we could say it is a world without a future.
But you were born precisely for this world! I say this with great conviction, and I quote Chiara Lubich’s own words on 19th July 1967 when she founded the New Families Movement. On that occasion she said exactly why you were born. That is why I want to read Chiara’s words again, even though many of you will know them by heart. Chiara said: “Here, in front of all of you, I feel I am seeing Jesus who is looking at the world, looking at the crowds, and has pity on them. Because all this portion of humanity has been placed on your shoulders: that which is most broken, the most like him forsaken! But it is the very same Jesus who, through our eyes, must look at these crowds and do something, so that our pity will not just be a matter of feelings but be transformed into works.”
More than fifty years have passed since Chiara said this, but I believe these words are truer than ever. The commitment, the mission remains the same: to make the world a family and thus build this “divine mosaic.”
Castel Gandolfo, 24th April 2022
 John Paul II on 30th December 1988 at Porto San Giorgio, Ascoli Piceno