Today there’s much talk of crisis in the institution of the family . Certainly the crisis is serious. However, although we are witnesses of a true revolution in family practice, and many have predicted the death of various traditional forms of the family, no one seriously predicts the disappearance of the family.
On the contrary, history seems to teach us that in difficult times the bonds of family life become stronger. Abundance separates people. Crisis and want unite them. In the face of feelings that we are heading to difficult times, there are many who foresee a new rebirth of the family.
Frequently the sincere desire of many Christians to imitate the Family of Nazareth has favored the ideal of a family bound together in the harmony and happiness of the home. Without doubt it’s needed today to promote the authority and responsibility of parents, the obedience of their children, family dialogue and solidarity. Without these values the family fails.
But not just any family responds to the demands of God’s reign set forth by Jesus. There are families open to the service of society, and those who are selfish, withdrawn into themselves. There are authoritarian families, and ones where they learn to dialogue. Families who train in selfishness, and families who teach solidarity.
Concretely, in the context of the serious economic crisis we are going through, the family can be a school of un-solidarity in which family selfishness is made the criterion of acting that configures the social behavior of its children. And the family could be, on the contrary, a place where a child can remember that we have a common Father, and that the world doesn’t end at the walls of our home.
That’s why we can’t celebrate the feast of the Family of Nazareth without hearing the challenge to our faith. Will our homes be a place where the next generation can hear the Gospel’s call to universal fraternity, the defense of the abandoned, and the seeking of a more just society; or will they become the most efficient school of indifference, inhibition and selfish passivity in the face of someone else’s problems?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf