FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2017
UNITY IN THE FAMILY
Feast of the Holy Family
December 30, 2016
A basic element of our mission is family renewal. This has always been crucial and even more so today, when assaults against the family have greatly intensified. Many marriages have broken up, many children grow up in one-parent homes, many parents neglect their parental responsibilities, many children are in rebellion against their parents’ authority. The list goes on and on.
Aside from the incessant and deliberate assaults by anti-life, anti-family, LGBT and modernist forces, much of the fault also lies with married couples themselves. Simply put, they have neglected or rejected (or never really knew about) God’s prescriptions for marriage and family life.
And what are those?
First, and most basic, the call to holiness. The practical aspects of responding to this call are all over the Bible. As an example, Paul instructs us: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another” (Col 3:12-13a). If only for those virtues, marriages would be strong and families united!
Second (in relation to the first), knowing what God prescribes for holy living. We basically get that from the Bible, the very word of God in written form. ”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16a). We must read the Bible daily and meditate on God’s word. Then we walk the path of righteousness. “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, and who walk in his ways.” (Ps 128:1).
Third, headship and submission in marriage. “Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord.” (Col 3:18). Feminists have rejected this teaching to their loss. But would that not lead to tyrannical domination by the husband? No, because God has given him his direction to follow. “Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them.” (Col 3:19).*
Fourth, care by parents for children. Parents are to care for their children as God Himself would care for them. Indeed, our children are God’s children, entrusted to us as stewards. Fathers, being the head of the family, are to take the lead, with full support from their wives. Parents are to be loving, patient and merciful. “Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.” (Col 3:21).
Fifth, respect by children for parents. Children need to understand that God places parents in authority over them. “For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children and confirms a mother’s authority over her sons.” (Sir 3:2). Thus it is for their own good if they obey their parents. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord.” (Col 3:20). If they are disobedient, they place themselves outside of God’s protective cover. In turn, the ancient wisdom literature tell us of many benefits to children who obey and respect their parents. They “atone for sins” (Sir 3:3), they “store up riches” (Sir 3:4), they “will have joy in their own children and when they pray they are heard” (Sir 3:5), they “will live a long life” (Sir 3:6a), they will have “firm roots” (Sir 3:9a).
All the above are difficult, and so we always need to look to God and should be motivated to act in reference to Christ. You forgive “as the Lord has forgiven you” (Col 3:13c). Submission of wives to their husbands “is proper in the Lord” (Col 3:18b). Obedience of children to parents “is pleasing to the Lord.” (Col 3:20b). The fruits will be forthcoming. “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your home, your children like young olive plants around your table. Just so will the man be blessed who fears the Lord.” (Ps 128:3-4). Thus, “whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col 3:17a).
We look to the Holy Family, the Son of which Herod tried to destroy (Mt 2:13d), which was uprooted and fled to Egypt (Mt 2:13c), which was the cause for the massacre of the infants (Mt 2:16), which remained a refugee family (Mt 2:22-23). Our families too have their own share of troubles. But we have Jesus and Mama Mary, our brother and mother. In them we rest secure. In them we as a family can remain united, strong and at peace.
“May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see Jerusalem’s prosperity all the days of your life, and live to see your children’s children.” (Ps 128:5-6a).
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* Please read my book “Families in the Holy Spirit” for an explanation of headship and subordination.