THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
OUR MISSION OF FAMILY RENEWAL
Feast of the Holy Family
The world today is in terrible shape, with the disintegration
of the family as one of the greater aspects of concern. The
family is God’s design. It is the basic unit of society
and of the Church. What happens to families determines what
happens to the world.
is God’s design for families?
God brings a man and a woman together in sacramental marriage
and makes them a new unity, a profound mystery that reflects
the relationship of Christ and his church. They have their
God-given roles and relationship. This is a relationship of
headship and subordination. “Wives, be subordinate to
your husbands, as is proper in the Lord.” (Col 3:18).
Today’s radical feminists, and the western world in
general, reject this. They see this as oppression of women,
rather than what God intendsgreat care for wives by their
loving husbands. Husbands of course need to understand their
role. They are protectors not oppressors. “Husbands,
love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them.”
Second, God appoints parents to take care of His
children, whom He has entrusted to earthly parents (consider
how His own Son Jesus was born of a human mother). “For
the Lord sets a father in honor over his children and confirms
a mother’s authority over her sons.” (Sir 3:2).
This is how life in the family happens according to God’s
way. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for
this is pleasing to the Lord.” (Col 3:20). Parents in
turn exercise care for their children with patience, tolerance,
understanding, forbearance and encouragement. realizing that
they have a long way to go. They can bide their time, since
they normally would have up to two decades to work on their
children. “Fathers, do not provoke your children, so
they may not become discouraged.” (Col 3:21).
for their own good, are to recognize such authority. “Those
who fear the Lord honor their father, and serve their parents
as masters.” (Sir 3:7). If children respond accordingly
to their parents’ authority and give them the respect
that is their due, then great things happen. “In word
and deed honor your father, that all blessings may come to
you.” (Sir 3:8). What are such blessings?
who honor their father atone for sins” (Sir 3:3).
God values giving honor to parents so much that He equates
it with the great grace of repentance, forgiveness and being
restored to right relationship with Himself. “Kindness
to a father will not be forgotten; it will serve as a sin
offeringit will take lasting root.” (Sir 3:14).
“when they pray they are heard.” (Sir 3:5b).
They pray effectively, connecting with God and becoming
“A father’s blessing gives a person firm roots”
(Sir 3:9a). They are firmly founded on rock, with God’s
ways firmly entrenched in their hearts and minds.
store up riches who respect their mother.” (Sir 3:4).
They will be blessed with material provisions on earth,
while preparing them for their eternal reward in heaven.
“Those who honor their father will have joy in their
own children” (Sir 3:5a). What they give they get
back. What they sow they reap. When they have their own
families, they will be blessed accordingly.
who respect their father will have a long life” (Sir
Third, the home is where children are taught and trained for
Christian life outside the home. This was the case with Jesus.
“He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was
obedient to them” (Lk 2:51a). Jesus was formed in godly
virtues in the home. He was prepared in the home for his earthly
ministry outside the home. “And Jesus advanced in wisdom
and age and favor before God and man.” (Lk 2:52).
The home is a place of love and refuge, is a school of formation,
is a base for mission. The home is the basic place where Christian
values are taught and caught. The home is the place where
everyone, both parents and children, “put on then, as
God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Col 3:12).
Just think. One has all those years together in a compact
and intimate environment where they continually relate with
each other. We can see how what happens in the home can become
for good or for bad. To ensure that things turn out well,
we need to take on God’s mind.
must know God’s ways, which is made known to us in
the Bible. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”
(Col 3:16a). Each member of the family (except the babies)
must read the Bible every day, and the family can also do
Bible reflection or study together (as in our Liturgical
Bible Study). This way they have the tools to help each
other grow, “as in all wisdom you teach and admonish
one another” (Col 3:16b).
As inevitably we end up hurting each other, we must learn
and practice forbearance and forgiveness, “bearing
with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a
grievance against another” (Col 3:13a). At times this
would be difficult. So we need not to be looking at the
wrong done to us, but at the right done by Jesus for us.
Indeed, “as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you
also do.” (Col 3:13b).
The home is the most basic church, and the family is to
be a community of worship. Each member of the family prays
every day. The family itself looks to communal prayer, whether
it is going together to Mass or just having family prayers
at home. They do so with joyful and grateful hearts, as
they go “singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Col 3:16c).
Love is the ultimate virtue. God is love, and we are to
love God and our neighbor. Our closest neighbors are our
family members. “And over all these put on love, that
is, the bond of perfection.” (Col 3:14).
We belong to God, we are God’s children, and we are
destined for eternal life with Him in heaven. As such, we
live for God. We dedicate our whole lives to Him. “And
whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the
name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father
through him.” (Col 3:17).
is the effect of all the above? It will be a right relationship
with God and with each other. That is the meaning of peace.
The world is destroying the family and so it knows no peace
but remains in great turmoil. That is not God’s intent
for the Christian family. “And let the peace of Christ
control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called
in one body.” (Col 3:15a).
children are God’s children. We are to care for them
as God would care for them. We are to try to discern God’s
will for them, and act accordingly. It pains me, for example,
to hear of parents who oppose and prevent their children desiring
to be priests or nuns, because they have other secular plans
for them. This would also be true for those young people who
desire to work full-time in ministry rather than pursue a
secular career. Jesus’ response to his parents, who
were so concerned looking for him, is important. He said,
“Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s
house?” (Lk 2:49b). Parents, your children are not to
live what you want but what God wants.
God has already reserved His outpouring of blessings upon
those who seek and do His will. “Blessed are all who
fear the Lord, and who walk in his ways.” (Ps 127:1).
will provide for their needs, and even bring them to prosperity.
“What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will
be blessed and prosper.” (Ps 128:2).
They will have the blessing of children and a vibrant family
life. “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within
your home, your children like young olive plants around
your table.” (Ps 128:3).
They will have the fondest of memories of a life well lived
in the home. “And his mother kept all these things
in her heart.” (Lk 2:51b).
“Just so will the man be blessed who fears the Lord.”
Note: Go and re-read my book “Families in the Holy Spirit.”