This past Sunday, December 28, 2014, was the feast of the Holy Family. The following is a reflection on the importance of the family in the Church.
Christ is the head of the Church, its source. The Holy Spirit, eternally united to Jesus the Son, is the Spirit of the Church, it’s guide. The heart of the church however is just that, the heart. The heart of man being united to the heart of God, and this union is made tangibly and physically manifest in the sacraments. We are adopted by God in baptism. Under the waters of baptism we hear God the Father say, this is my beloved son/daughter with whom I am well pleased. In reconciliation we encounter the love of God in his mercy as he says, I forgive you, for remember you are my beloved child, now go and sin no more. Yet even if we sin again, God’s mercy is not finite and his forgiveness is ever present to us. In the Holy Eucharist we encounter love in its greatest form, full self-gift. Jesus gives us himself, holding nothing back, so that through his sacrifice we may be saved.
Christ is the head of the Church. The Sacraments are the heart of the Church, constant, in rhythm, giving life to the body. Now allow me to suggest that the family is the blood of the Church. The family, founded in the heart, the sacrament of matrimony, is then pumped through the entire body, rejuvenating and bringing life to the whole Church. The family, pulsating throughout the whole of the body, for there is not one person other than the first Man and Woman in the beginning who was not born of woman. Every good priest was first a son of his parents; every holy sister, first a daughter. All men and women who are united in marriage and become one body, were first children.
The family is the blood of the Church. What happens when blood is tainted or diseased? The body begins to die. This is why Satan has been working so hard to destroy the family. Satan knows that the quickest and surest way for a child to grow in sanctity and virtue is first by experiencing profound and heroic love in his family. As a child witnesses the love between his parents and experience’s love from them, that child will more readily recognize the love of God the Father. But when a child experiences abandonment, anger, indifference, possessiveness, or a sense of being used from his parents, that is the image that child will place on God. Once the child imagines God the Father as distant, angry or indifferent, then Satan will whisper into the child’s ear, “You do not need God, he does not want what is best for you. Only you can decide what is best for you, do as you will. Be your own master, be your own god.”
When we submit to this first temptation, to fall as Adam and Eve fell, sin enters the body, and with sin so enters death. This is why Satan is so strongly attacking the family. Furthermore, Satan despises marriage. In marriage, your FIRST PRIORITY is to get your spouse to Heaven. How do we do this? We need not look anywhere other than Christ on the Cross - the image of what Jesus did to get his bride, the Church, to Heaven. What will we do to get our spouses to Heaven? Will we die on a cross next to Christ on behalf of our spouse? Satan is afraid we will, and that is why he tempts us to turn from the other and rather look only to ourselves - our pleasures, our desires.
If Satan can destroy marriages through selfishness by tempting us away from selflessness, then the children of marriages will suffer, and another generation of the Church will be infected with the disease that is poisoning the blood. There is hope however. When blood is diseased, one needs a blood transfusion. By the grace of God we have a steady supply of the blood of Jesus poured out for us from his side as he was on the cross. The Blood of Christ is transfused into the body of the Church through the sacrifice of the Mass and health is perpetually restored. We have only to submit to the love of God in his Divine Mercy!
So be not afraid to embrace the mercy of God. Be not afraid to love faithfully and selflessly. Young people, enter into vocation! Embrace God’s invitation for you to become a priest, a husband, a wife, a holy sister, or consecrated. Vocation is not a shackle around your ankle. Vocation is God’s invitation into love so that we may “have life and have it abundantly.” We need holy priests to be Christ to the people and provide the sacraments, the beating heart of the Church. We need holy religious to enter into the mystical prayer and consciousness of the Holy Spirit that guides and directs the Church. We need holy married couples to be the life blood of the Church, to pulsate through the body carrying love and devotion, living so that others may live, touching all aspects of the Church, ever flowing so that we may “go to the ends of the earth and make disciples of all nations.”
The Devil will never stop attacking the Church. He will never cease to inject poison into the world. We are however promised, “The gates of Hell shall not prevail.” Hope is the strength of the Christian. As Pope Saint John Paul the Great so eloquently said, "We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”