How Grace Can Cement a Cracked Foundation

The Holy Family, Murillo

Having grown up in a “non-traditional” family I’ve often allowed myself to fall into despair about what the future holds for my own family. I experienced my childhood between every-other weekends and talk of child support and alimony. Thankfully, I also continued to be concerned with Barbies, days at the creek, and neighborhood kickball games . . . my childhood was not all lost.

A favorite reflection from the book In Conversation with God (by Francis Fernandez, it comes highly recommended) reminded me “We should never forget the first thing Jesus chose to sanctify was the home.” This reminder brought me to tears as I read it from my pew at the cathedral one evening. My tears were not out of sadness or self-pity (although that would not have been out of the ordinary) but instead from a place of deep gratitude – gratitude for the gift that is family. I thought about what gifts come with the family: the gift of siblings around the dinner table, the gift of helping dad in the garage, the gift of offering a sibling five more minutes in the home’s only bathroom, the gift of all pitching in to prepare for company. These are gifts that I was still given despite the brokenness that existed. Gifts that I will continue to find if I keep looking for them and inviting them in.

My tears of gratitude were also directed at the plans God has for me “plans for welfare and not for harm . . . a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). His plans can’t be snatched away, not even by a tarnished home life, at least not if He is allowed to be the one in charge.

It is true Jesus did and does sanctify the home – whether a home with both parents or just one. At home He gives us, like in no other place, a school for virtue. There we are constantly being invited to learn and practice charity, compassion, patience, and cheerfulness.

That same evening after reading Francis Fernandez’s reflection in Denver’s breathtaking cathedral, Archbishop Chaput pointed out that just after Jesus tells His disciples about the indissolubility of marriage He firmly reminds them of their need to be like little children. This is no coincidence. To be like little children is precisely what we all need to do. We all need to recognize ourselves as being without status, unimportant, and as not being owed a single thing. With that attitude we can truly accept that which God gives us from His loving hand. Even if it is a family or home that is broken . . . difficult . . . wounded . . .

The reality that Jesus chose to sanctify the family before anything else is joyful and hope-filled. For those of us who are striving to see how God will make straight the crooked paths of our families’ pasts, we can know that He wasn’t excluding us when he decided to pour graces and blessings upon the home. He did not choose to sanctify only perfect families, but the jacked up ones as well. He withholds His goodness from no one and makes available His love for us all. It is within the home that we are first invited to love as God loves- without limits- even if that home’s foundation is cracked or crumbling.

Instead of being homesick at the thought of what I’ve missed, I’m going to lift my eyes up to the hills and wait for the help that comes from the Lord, who chose to first sanctify the home – the place which prepares us for our eternal home.

 

The article was originally published at FOCUS.

Jen Loser

By

Jen Loser is the alumni relations manager, serving student and missionary alumni of FOCUS. A native of Colorado, she received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2007. Prior to her time at FOCUS she worked in the catastrophe and natural disaster industry with people who lost their homes in flood, fire, and other disasters. Jen has a heart for sharing the Gospel through catechesis and teaching art and craft. She lives in Denver, Colorado Twitter: @jenloser

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  • BillinJax

    Jen,

    Thank you for your gentle but heart touching words to describe the Father’s love for all his children especially ones who have been roughed up by a world without respect for them. And speaking of family, our God of Love gave me this to say in that regard.

    Salvation history seems to show that man obviously was a “slow learner”
    when it came to understanding our relationship with the Creator. So our eternal
    and loving God gave humanity a while to experience life at a distance from him.
    This prepared us for Christ; his beloved Son, the Teacher, his Word in the
    flesh.
    It was time for us to visually see, audibly hear, and bare witness to his
    word and love in action exemplified by his own Son. The Father through the Holy Spirit, which is his Will in action, came to us in the Incarnate flesh of Christ. Only an omnipotent being as our God could have designed and implemented such a revealing divine and complete plan for mankind’s ultimate salvation as the birth and life of
    Jesus.
    Through Christ we are called to become a new creation with a new commission
    and share intimately with the Creator in his plan for “his people”. We are now
    united as “one body” through Christ and pledge our will to do his “on earth as
    it is in heaven”.
    Family was God’s one choice for revealing his “Word” to “become flesh and
    dwell among us”. This was his model for man to understand our Triune God, his
    love for us, his desire to be in communion with us, and to enjoy the mystery of
    his presence among us in this our universal home.
    It was a humble home and family which faithfully accepted the arrangement on his
    terms, by his means not as they had planned, and for his will to be done. Both
    Mary and Joseph, as part of that original covenant, were devout Jews and
    “willing” to do whatever God had in mind for them knowing they would be
    together “with child” in their adventure for the Holy Spirit who came to
    “overshadow” them.
    So what do we see here? A complete and dedicated union of a devoted
    husband, a pure and faithfully obedient virgin wife, and a divine child
    combined in love and purpose to make up the eternal package for the worlds
    first “Christmas”. A single unit of persons, Family was its name; Salvation was
    its goal; Love was its eternal message.
    There exposed and unfolded to the world was heavens “celestial family” of
    Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in their greatest act of love for mankind’s
    salvation, spiritually conjoined with THE holy family of husband, wife, and
    savior child. The nature of heaven’s Trinity revealed on earth in “Family” as
    only our Creator God would have it for the sake of all in humanity’s ultimate
    understanding of His nature and nearly unimaginable triumph, the Incarnation.

    Father God is Love, willed through the Holy Spirit and His chosen vessel
    our Immaculate mother Mary, the “triumphant” woman named and promised in the
    garden, to be present among us even unto today in the Eucharist as our savior Lord, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ once and forever.

  • francine

    Thank you for writing about this topic. I came from a dysfunctional family with not the best role models of making choices, etc. and it’s been a long journey to have some semblance of what having a healthy self and life is like. At times, in the church, I have felt like it’s only for perfect people or healthy families so its nice to see a discussion about this here.

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