Is 7:10-14; Rom 1:1-7; Mt 1:18-24
I was browsing through television shows available on an air flight when I came across one in the comedy section titled Modern family. The movie’s synopsis alone proved my earlier suspicion that it was not worth a second of my time. The goal of this show is to blur any difference between the traditional nuclear family of father, mother, and children and “same-sex” marriage. It tries to make the point that any form of union between persons of whatever gender can safely and properly raise children.
Are we now so hungry for entertainment that a docuseries that mock God’s plan for marriage and family is now comedy for us? Shouldn’t we instead be outraged, and concerned, bow our heads in sorrow, and make acts of reparation for such shows?
Sadly, it is not only the secular media that is boldly mocking family and marriage. German bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck recently demanded that the Catholic Church widen its understanding of the family to include homosexual unions. According to him, “Family is where people live with children…No form of family offers a guarantee of stability and security. That’s why it’s also difficult to adhere completely uncritically to just one ideal form of family.” How preposterous for fallible human beings to dictate to God the channels for communicating His blessings to us?
We need to remind ourselves that marriage between a man and a woman is an integral part of God’s eternal plan for all of humanity. God owns everything and every person, “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it.” He also can do all things, “For He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”(Ps 24) This same God could easily have come to this world a fully grown man, “full of grace and truth,”(Jn 1:14) without the cooperation of human agents. He did not absolutely need to be born of the ever-virgin Mary. He could easily have dispensed with the drama of St. Joseph’s dilemma over Mary’s pregnancy.
The truth is that God freely chose to come to this world through the family of St. Joseph and Mary. Marriage between a man and a woman is much more than a means of propagating the human race. In the birth of Jesus into the family of Joseph and Mary, married love and family have also become the means by which God enters this world and bestows His abundant blessings on humanity. Marriage and family, when imbued with the sacrament of baptism, have become a means of supernatural life in this world and a means of fulfilling God’s eternal plan.
This is why Advent is a time for us to remind ourselves of what a family truly is and how it is indispensable for the life and mission of the Church. Family is not just a vague love relationship between any number or genders of persons as some would erroneously suggest. Family is a covenant union between one man and one woman in God. God calls a man and woman to marriage, makes it possible for “the two of them to become one,”(Gen 2:24), and sustains them in their marital commitment. It is God who invites St. Joseph to embrace the mystery of Mary’s virginal conception of the infant Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” God, and not man, initiates and defines married love and family.
Family is also a faithful love between a man and a woman for life. It is meant to be for life and not open to third parties because it is meant to reflect and make present in our world God’s undying faithful love for His people. In God’s plan, the permanence of married love is inseparable from the union of man and woman in a covenant relationship. There is no other union between persons that has this divine guarantee of permanence.
Members of the family are also not just called to love each other and to raise children. But the members must also cooperate with and support each other to fulfill the plan of God. St. Paul tells us what this plan of God is, “To have the obedience of faith…You are called to belong to Jesus Christ…You are called to be holy.” A true family strives to obey God and His laws and not make up their own laws about marriage. They seek to belong to Christ and strive for holiness and not indulge in many forms of depraved sexuality of our times. Notice how Mary and St. Joseph in their own ways support each other in fulfilling the will of God no matter how mysterious and painful it may be. It is absurd to think that something contrary to the will of God as homosexual unions will somehow be beneficial to the members of a family.
Lastly, family is always ready to receive the gift of new life from God. The man and woman are not united in marriage for their own sake but they are open to the children that God would give as well as the supernatural life that God offers to them and to their offspring. Imagine how Mary and St. Joseph have to grapple with the mystery of the infant Jesus. If divine life entered this world through this family, can anyone dare to propose another form of family life?
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God chose to bless the world with Jesus through a family, “In the fulness of time, God sent His Son, born of a woman.”(Gal 4:4-5) He will never stop blessing this world in and through our families. There is no such thing as a modern family because God’s plan of salvation never changes. Such unions, no matter what we may call them, cannot be blessed by God or His Church and they definitely cannot become channels of God’s blessings to us, no matter how strongly we may feel about them.
If the family is always important for God and His saving plan, why are families no longer important for many who claim to be Christians? Why do we stand aside idle while the family is being attacked and mocked within and outside the Church? We hear disparaging lies about marriage and family from the Church’s hierarchy who have pledged to defend the faith. We see many people not getting married but living together. Many married couples are walking away from their commitments for flimsy excuses. Many have become completely insensitive to the issue of the murder of unborn infants, “same-sex” marriage, artificial contraception, etc.
Remember that attacks and mockeries of marriage and family are basically rejections of God’s saving plan and a forfeiture of God’s blessings. A church that fails to reverence and promote biblical marriage and defend it from all distortions is a church that is on a path of utter self-destruction.
What then can we do to reverence families and so receive the many blessings that God offers to us through our families? We can begin by praying for all families and praying in our families too. Christian families and marriages are under attack by the devil and fallen men and women who knowingly or unknowingly do his bidding. We need the graces of God that come from prayer to sustain our families in this unrelenting battle. Remember the maxim: “The family that prays together stays together.”
We must also be fully engaged and involved in our families. The days are gone when we depended on society or even the Church to help form in us a truly familial spirit. We must be ready to enter into the fears and struggles of others in the family and offer them sound direction and support before they are exposed to and influenced by the many people who peddle deadly lies about marriage and family.
Lastly, we must encourage, promote, and defend families in any way that we can. Let our own families become good examples of that familial spirit that comes from having Christ at the center of our homes. We must renounce and speak up when marriage and family are mocked and ridiculed.
Advent is a time for us to re-ignite our waiting for Christ’s glorious return. It is also a time to remind ourselves that Christ also comes to us in and through our families where His plan for marriage is embraced and lived faithfully. If by the grace of God, we revere and defend marriage and family to the best of our ability, we will begin to experience the many blessings that God is always giving to us through families.
Glory to Jesus! Honor to Mary!