The Gift Of Family
“We love because he first loved us!” – 1 John 4:19
God’s greatest gift to humanity is a healthy, happy family! It is the ultimate community God chooses for us – gives strength, helps us heal, and provides all that is necessary for peace and joy in the life of family. There are always challenges in life, and living well is our responsibility. God has certainly given us all the necessary tools in His teachings and traditions to make the journey of salvation easier.
I grew up in a Catholic household and attended Catholic school. I am grateful every day that my parents made a decision to baptize their children and educate them in the Catholic faith. In a culture where religious freedom is under attack, we need the foundation of Church teachings to help us through good times and bad. Evil preys upon all of us in an attempt to disrupt, distort, and wreak havoc on the institution of family life.
In our current culture the institution of family is rapidly changing, with profound effect on society. St John Paul II wrote an apostolic exhortation titled: “Familiaris Consortio.” It was written to the Episcopate, the Clergy and to all the faithful of the Catholic Church on the role of the Christian family in the modern world. This insightful message was written during the Synod of Bishops, held in Rome from Sept. 26 to Oct. 25, 1980, and the message is still very relevant for our society in 2017.
Many families live with the values that represent the institution of family, others are unaware of the truth of conjugal family life, and finally, there are those hindered by situations of injustice in their fundamental rights. The Church offers services to every person who is concerned about the purpose of marriage and the family. We are not immune from the pressures coming from the mass media, which obscures the fundamental values and seems to diminish the serious conscience of family culture. The building of authentic family morality is a responsibility we all share. The sanctification of family life is the mission of the Church, and Christians must defend and protect the gift of family through daily prayer.
We planned a family reunion this summer; it had been 15 years since our last gathering. Many things happen in life over a period of so many years, but we seemed to pick up where we left off with memories and stories of the past generation. We shared photos and genealogy and connected with new members to the family through marriage and new babies born. Ironically, it is social media that made our reconnecting easier. It was great to make new memories with people with whom we share a past. Our brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and in-laws too, all contribute to the ever-changing family tree.
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – 1 Timothy 5:8
I do not believe Timothy is only speaking of material or physical needs, we must also share with love, the spiritual truth of living well. It is a challenge, and I find many times it is better to love than to be right. But with the culture we live in, being silent is not the solution. I always tell my family members, “Keep soldiering, soldiers....Christ is counting on you!”
When the Lord asks, “Where is your brother?” I hope you have a better answer than Cain because we are our brothers’ keepers. Amen!