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When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Lk 2:22, 39-40
It is in the family that many of God’s dreams for the human community are realized. Hence, we cannot resign ourselves to the decline of the family in the name of uncertainty, individualism and consumerism, which envision a future of individuals who think only of themselves. We cannot be indifferent to the future of the family as a community of life and love, a unique and indissoluble covenant between a man and a woman, a place where generations meet, a source of hope for society.
Message of His Holiness Pope Francis For The Launch Of The Family Global Compact, May 30,2023
Families under scrutiny of the State for their beliefs and their actions. Financial, societal, and governmental demands tug at the fabric of family life. Secular systems compete with religious institutions to determine whose is the “correct” path for parents and children.
Mary and Joseph had many of the same pressures in their life as 21st century families face each day, save for escaping Herod’s wrath, foretold to Joseph by an angel. In today’s accounting from Luke, the family meets its religious obligations, and, back home in Bethlehem, they created their family life and customs, under God’s favor.
I have had the privilege of talking with Benedictine College alums who share their stories of their own family lives, and the modern day pressures they must address while being true to their faith.
I actually believe it may be a bit easier in some ways to have a family in 2024. My wife and I married in the late 1970s, and my memory is that marriage was tolerated by secular society, but having children was considered an impediment to “personal and professional growth”. Maybe one or two children were okay, but more than that, you’ll ruin our planet.
We attended three events over the holiday season which give me hope for fruitful family life. We were part of a packed house for the Kansas City rep production of “A Christmas Carol”. Families of all ages and generations shared the magic of Charles Dickens’ story of personal devastation and redemption. We also attended the Kansas City Ballet matinee performance of “The Nutcracker”, and the sight of so many young children, dressed up and, yes, well mannered made for a joyous afternoon. Finally, we spent time at Union Station-Kansas City and, again, families were enjoying each other’s company as they visited the “Holiday Reflections” display. It was just a pleasure to see families interacting, and sharing their joy and wonder. This is likely the most meaningful gift my wife and I could ask for.
Are there irritations and issues? Of course, but, at least for those times and those moments, dads, moms, grandparents and kids could be strong, be filled with wisdom, and sharing the joy of being with each other as “a community of love”, as Pope Francis describes the family.
May we all have a year filled with joy, love, and community in all our families.