Today is Christian Family Day. A feast day recently established so that we Christians would celebrate and deepen what could be a family project understood and lived out in the spirit of Jesus.
It’s not enough to abstractly defend the value of the family. Nor is it sufficient to imagine family life according to the model of the family of Nazareth, idealized from our conception of the traditional family. Following Jesus sometimes requires us to question and transform models and customs that have taken hold of us.
For Jesus the family isn’t something absolute and untouchable. It’s much more. What’s decisive isn’t the blood family, but that great family that we humans need to build by listening to what the one Father of all desires. Even Jesus’ parents will have to learn this, not without problems and conflicts.
According the Luke’s account, Jesus’ parents desperately look for him, when they discover that he’s abandoned them without worrying about them. How could he do this? His mother reproaches him when she finds him: «My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you». Jesus surprises them with an unexpected answer: «Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?».
His parents «did not understand what he meant». Only if they go deeper into his words and into his behavior in front of his human family, will they gradually discover that for Jesus what’s most important is the family of humanity: a society that is more fraternal, just, in solidarity – the way God wants it.
We can’t responsibly celebrate today’s feast without listening to the challenge of our faith.
- How are our families doing? Do they live committed to a better and more human society, or are they exclusively closed in on their own interests? Do they teach solidarity, peace-making, sensibility toward the needy, compassion, or do they teach living for bottomless well-being, greatest wealth, and forgetting everyone else?
- What’s going on in our homes? Is the faith being nurtured, do we remember Jesus Christ, do they learn to pray, or do we only pass on indifference, unbelief and a void where God was? Do we educate for living from a moral conscience that is responsible, healthy, coherent with Christian faith, or do we favor a style of life that is superficial, without goals or ideals, without criteria or ultimate meaning?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf