Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The family mission

The Son of God whose birthday we celebrate on Christmas day was born into a family in Nazareth, the greatest Gift of God to uplift sinful humanity.  God Himself chose to come into the world in a human family which He himself formed.  The family itself introduces fraternity into the world, through the example of the parents aware of their responsibility to educate their children in finding their own lives to lead.  “An intelligent son listens to his father’s advice, but a mocker listens to no correction” (Prov. 13:1).

As Pope Francis writes in his Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Amoris Laetitia’, article 18: The Gospel reminds us that children are not the property of a family, but have their own lives to lead.  Jesus is a model of obedience to his earthly parents, placing himself under their charge (cf. Lk. 2:51), but He also shows that children’s life decisions and their Christian vocation may demand a parting for the sake of the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt. 10:34-37).  His statement: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Lk. 8:21) shows the need for other deeper bonds even within the family.  At twelve years of age, Jesus tells Mary and Joseph that he has a greater mission to accomplish apart from his earthly family: “Why were you looking for me?  Do you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk. 2: 49).

May Jesus’ birth awaken us to the role and mission of the family in bringing up children in the faith.  One of the Psalms celebrates the proclamation of faith within families: “All that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us, we will not hide from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought…that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them totheir children” (Ps. 78:3-6).  The family is thus the place where parents become their children’s first teachers in the faith. 

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