Jesus said to his disciples: "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
God with us
Is God for families or against them? When we look at the political landscape, we often see it as our responsibility as Christians to “defend family values.” But when we look at Sacred Scripture, and particularly the Gospels, we sometimes see Christ with attitudes that seem at least counter-intuitive to us. Jesus refuses to receive his mother when he is preaching. (cf. Mt. 12:45-50) He seems to clash with his mother at the wedding of Cana. (cf. Jn. 2) What is going on?
Jesus does not want us to get caught up in details and miss the bigger picture.
Why do we have families in this world?
Knowing that marriage and the family constitute one of the most precious of human values, the Church wishes to speak and offer her help to those who are already aware of the value of marriage and the family and seek to live it faithfully, to those who are uncertain and anxious and searching for the truth, and to those who are unjustly impeded from living freely their family lives. Supporting the first, illuminating the second and assisting the others, the Church offers her services to every person who wonders about the destiny of marriage and the family. (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 1)
Church and Family
The Church is able to help us to understand what families are and why they are so important to us. When we look at our society, it is easy to see an attack on the family.
There is an effort to redefine the family, beyond the traditional categories of man and woman with children.
There is an effort to separate the exercise of sexuality from the sacrament of marriage.
There is an effort to separate children from the structure of a family.
Divorce is seen as a legitimate end to a marriage.
When Jesus speaks about causing division in the family, is he condoning the modern attack on the family? Of course not!
Jesus wants to make sure that we are constructing our lives on true foundations. We should not allow ourselves to be confused and sucked into the false promises of the world. For this reason, Christ invites us to have him as our true foundation. Far be it from him to prohibit contact with the family. He wants to avoid rather the trap of thinking that family is our salvation and losing our true savior along the way.
Our Church must lead a cultural renewal so that our society will once more see that marriage is sacred and that the family is the true sanctuary of life and the heart of a civilization of love. We need to do everything we can to restore a “family culture” in our society. That means defending marriage in the face of widespread cultural confusion. That means doing more in our parishes and ministries to support mothers and fathers and families. That means talking to our children, from a very young age, about the beauty and the meaning of marriage and family. (Archbishop Gómez, 2012)
How will we lead this cultural renewal?
We can re-establish the family as the basic unit of society. We do this by fostering family life and supporting young marriages and families.
The family is almost always at the top of the ladder of values of different peoples because it is inscribed in the very nature of woman and man. In this sense, marriage and the family are not purely human institutions, despite the many changes they have undergone over the centuries and the cultural and spiritual differences among various peoples. (Pope Francis, 2022)
We can do this by supporting religious vocations. When society is strong in its sense of faith, it is natural for religious vocations to sprout up. They need our support to flourish and come to fruition.
Francis (2022). Address to Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Address
Gómez. October 2, 2012. New World of Faith
John Paul II. (1981) Familiaris Consortio. Familiaris Consortio