The first sentence in the most recent Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Francis, ‘Amoris Laetitia’ says, “The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church;” This was expressed so beautifully last week in our own parish, as our 2017-18 Catechetical year began anew. The joy in the faces of the children, parents, teachers and ministers as we gathered together for the first time since May was contagious! Together as a parish family, we are a living reflection of the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a communion of love. All families present at the Masses were given an opportunity to reflect on their faith in Jesus Christ, and the many ways we impart and evangelize our faith to others. Saint John Paul II once said,
“Our God, in his deepest mystery is not solitude, but a family, for he has within himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of family, which is love.”
The family has its beginning in the same love with which the Creator created each of us. This is expressed in John’s Gospel[3:16] “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” God chose to have his only son, Jesus Christ, enter human history through the family. In Nazareth, Jesus is the obedient son to Mary, his mother and to his father, Joseph. The obedience to his human family is the first expression of the obedience that Jesus showed his Father in life, but most especially by his death, whereby he redeemed the world. Jesus Christ is the center of our faith, evangelization, and at the heart of catechesis. He is our true gift that helps us ascend to our highest calling in a vocation to love.
We are deeply affected by our family’s faith life, their posture towards life, death, fear and trust creates indelible impressions on children whose spirits are being formed. The spiritual art of a faith filled, busy, family life depends on two important disciplines: the first, availability; and the second, Sabbath keeping. When we speak of availability in the family setting, we mean true attentive care for one another, trying hard to avoid over scheduling ourselves and our children. By Sabbath keeping, we are scheduling family quality time together, most importantly, making the Eucharist the foundation of our family. The Church, the family of families; embraces, nurtures, forms, and follows up on the wellbeing of the domestic family and their faith journey. Together, we transform the world by creating a sense of place, an identity in communion with one another, where welcoming, letting go, joy, justice and mercy meet.