THE FAMILY ISN’T UNTOUCHABLE
Frequently we believers have defended the «family» abstractly, without stopping to reflect on the concrete content of a family project understood and lived out from the perspective of the Gospel. And yet it’s not enough to defend the value of the family and stop there, since the family can be expressed in all kinds of flavors in reality.
There are families that are open to serve society, and others folded into their our interests. Some families teach selfishness, and some teach solidarity. There are freeing families, and oppressive ones.
Jesus firmly defends the institution of the family and the stability of marriage. He has harshly criticized children who don’t recognize their parents. But for Jesus the family isn’t an absolute or something untouchable. It’s not an idol. There’s something above it and before it: God’s Reign and God’s justice.
What’s decisive isn’t the family of blood, but that great family that we need to build among all God’s sons and daughters, working with Jesus to open up paths that lead to where the Father reigns. That’s why, if the family becomes an obstacle to following Jesus in this project, he demands we break off and abandon such a family relationship: «No one who prefers father or mother to me is worthy of me. No one who prefers son or daughter to me is worthy of me».
When the family impedes solidarity and fraternity with others and doesn’t allow its members to work for the justice God wants among us all, Jesus demands a critical freedom, even though this brings with it conflicts and tensions for the family.
Are our homes a school of Gospel values like fraternity, the responsible search for a more just society, austerity, service, prayer, forgiveness? Or are they precisely the place of «non-evangelization», and go about transmitting our society’s selfishness, injustice, business-as-usual, alienation and superficiality?
What can we say about the family that orients a child to selfish classism, a settled and safe life, an ideal of maximum luxury, forgetting everyone else? Is a child being educated when it is encouraged only to compete in rivalry, and not to serve in solidarity?
Is this the family we should defend as Catholics? Is this the family where new generations can hear the Gospel? Or is this the family that we should «abandon» right now, any way possible, in order to be faithful to the project of life that Jesus wants?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf