Amoris Laetitia 14: Shoots of an Olive Tree

amoris laetitia memeRemember to check the actual link to Amoris Laetitia for the full document. This section and the four that follow (14-18) fall under a subtitle of “Your Children are as the Shoots of an Olive Tree.” We return to the 128th psalm, where Pope Francis interprets the image of greenery around a shared table:

14. Let us once more take up the song of the Psalmist. In the home where husband and wife are seated at table, children appear at their side “like olive shoots” (Ps 128:3), that is, full of energy and vitality. If the parents are in some sense the foundations of the home, the children are like the “living stones” of the family (cf. 1 Pet 2:5). Significantly, the word which appears most frequently in the Old Testament after the name of God (YHWH, “the Lord”), is “child” (ben, “son”), which is itself related to the verb “to build” (banah). Hence, Psalm 128, in speaking of the gift of children, uses imagery drawn from the building of a house and the social life of cities: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain… Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” (Ps 127:1, 3-5). These images reflect the culture of an ancient society, yet the presence of children is a sign of the continuity of the family throughout salvation history, from generation to generation.

The citation of the previous psalm is correct. Both are at the literal heart and center of a set of psalms (120-134) utilized for pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Perhaps we have a reminder that even though we may have an experience of pilgrimage, or even of exile, the family with its children remain at the center of life’s journey. The human impulse for settlement and stability is part of our heart.

Comments?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Amoris Laetitia 14: Shoots of an Olive Tree

  1. Melody says:

    Makes me think of this song:

    We get requests for it sometimes for celebration of an anniversary. Also use it for a responsorial psalm if it fits the readings.

  2. Melody says:

    Sorry, it was supposed to be this song:

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