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The Holy Family by the late Reverend Henry Van Den Boogaard, M.S.F., a priest of the Missionaries of the Holy Family.Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explained God’s love in his encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est or “God is Love.” Based on the history of salvation in the Bible, God reveals His love to people who believe and accept His love. Two points emerge from this. The first is the relationship between our love and the Divine. The second is the purification and growth in maturity of our love for one another. The theme for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015 is Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive! Why do we talk about love in the modern era? 

 Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco said that families are in crisis and living in dangerous situations. In reality, many young couples do not get married in the Catholic Church because they are afraid to be faithful to each other. The Culture of Death has seduced them into loving each other for pleasure only.

In the Catholic Church, marriage is a sacrament. It is a holy and sacred because God is present in the marriage. Spouses are not called to success and fame; they are called to be faithful to each other. For this to happen, two things are important. First, they should build a relationship on common interests, emotional intimacy, and dialogue. The second is more important. They should make a commitment to sacrificial love.

Mary Rice Hasson, an attorney and member of the Ethics & Public Policy Center, wrote about marriage in Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly (February 8, 2015). She explained that commitment, chastity, and mercy are the building blocks for a happy marriage. Commitment is easy to say but tough to live. It requires opening our hearts to sacrificial love and forgiveness.

Pope Saint John Paul II said that the Culture of Death has destroyed the fabric of family life. Many families face problems of drugs, addiction, suicide, crime, gangs, human sex trafficking, broken homes, bullying, and domestic violence. However, when family members leave and then try to reconcile, many times they are not accepted. A process of reconciliation is needed in the home that models the Church’s Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Some people suffer from poverty, disabilities, illnesses, and loneliness. They long for family. The family is the domestic church, and it should continue the mission of Jesus to heal wounded hearts, to love all members of the family.

The New Evangelization can be understood as bringing the wounded in from the battlefield of the world to encounter the Divine Physician and His healing. The Church is a place of peace, love, and care during our earthly battles. In the Church, every member yearns to feel safe, cared for, loved, and respected. Pope Francis invites all people to come back home to the Church as a house of love and Truth. Similarly, Jesus invites all people who are weary and burdened to take His yoke, because He is meek and humble of heart. (Matthew 11:28-29)

The Church is the family of families, the community of communities. We are the mystical body of Christ. Jesus is the head of the Church, and we are the body of Christ (Lumen Gentium, 8). We are the people of God who believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, and we are called to proclaim the Good News to people who are living in the shadow of death. In the words of Pope Francis, we should be “sharing the joy of the Gospel.” 

Holy Family as Model of Family Life

God loves us by giving us an opportunity to live with Him in His kingdom if we are faithful until the end. Jesus is a concrete symbol of God’s love, and He is the sacrament of God’s love. In the Mystery of the Incarnation, the Word of God became flesh (John 1:14), and He is still with us today (Matthew 1:23). Emmanuel!

Even though we do not have much information about the Holy Family of Nazareth from the New Testament, we can learn from the personalities of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. For example, even though Mary was pregnant with a Child who was not biologically his, Joseph still took Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:18-25).

The Holy Family accepted the revelation of God and obeyed the Jewish laws. Mary and Joseph believed Jesus was the Son of God, even when it was difficult to understand what He said to them (Luke 2:50). Mary treasured the life of the Child Jesus in her heart (Luke 2:51). Due to her intercession, Jesus changed water into wine at the Wedding Feast of Cana (John 2:1-11). Note that even as an adult, Jesus honored His parents.

As a faithful disciple, Mary stood at the foot of the Cross (John 19:25-30). Mary is seen as queen is chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation, and Saint Paul’s teaching of Jesus as the New Adam implies Mary as the New Eve (Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:36-55). Our Blessed Mother can lead us to a new and reborn faith because of her love and belief in Jesus, the Word of God.

We have many movies about the Holy Family, all trying to explain who Jesus is and the roles of Mary and Joseph. I recommend The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson and Mary of Nazareth by Ignatius Productions.

Marriage & Family: Mystical Body of Christ 

In his Theology of the Body, Saint Pope John Paul II inspires us with a description of the family as the beautiful bones of the Church. Author George Weigel describes John Paul II’s Theology of the Body as “one of the boldest reconfigurations of Catholic theology in centuries.”

In the document Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) from the Second Vatican Council, God Himself is the author of marriage (GS 48, 49). In the beginning, God created Adam, then God said that it was not good for the man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). While Adam slept, God took a rib from Adam and created Eve. God brought her to Adam who exclaimed, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-25)

Jesus explains the meaning of marriage in Matthew 19:1-12 and Mark 10:1-12. Marriage is a sacrament that has both divine and human dimensions. Through their union in one flesh (the human dimension), a husband and wife are caught up in the great mystery of God’s covenant love for humanity. Saint Paul teaches that Jesus is the head of the Church and we are His body. As Christ loves His Church, so husbands should love their wives. (Ephesians 5:21-33)

Families can become holy temples of God, too, because God is always present and lives with them. A family will be strong if every member commits to loving each other sacrificially, as Christ loves us. With determination and the grace of God, Catholic families can shine like stars in the night and the sun during the day.

Family life is beautiful! God bless your family. +JMJ+

(Article by Father Eka Yuantoro, M.S.F.)

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