Our Fragile Holy Families

Our Fragile Holy Families

On this Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the first reading (Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14) talks about the traditional family in which there is a husband who is a man and a wife who is a woman. There is a father, a mother, and children. These are simple, traditional concepts that have been good for millennia, but which are now turned upside down in certain environments, with intimidation, crippling repercussions and even the loss of livelihood for those who do not comply.

God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. (Sirach 3:2)

In non-traditional types of family, the duties mentioned in this reading as assigned to children by God, cannot be carried out. With increasing frequency, children are seen not as gifts from God but a commodity, manufactured goods produced outside of his design.

A father is not set in honor over his children when two women, married to each other in a civil ceremony want a child. One of the two plays the role of mother and gets impregnated by a sperm donor. The natural father of the women’s child cannot be set in honor because he will be completely absent.

A mother’s authority over her sons cannot be confirmed when two men, married in a civil ceremony want to have a child. The woman whose womb is “rented” and impregnated by the sperm of one of the two men, cannot have her authority confirmed over her child because she will be out of the picture of the child’s life.

Outside of the traditional family setting blessed by God, his blessings must be sought in humility of heart and with willingness to follows his design.

In recent days there has been a forceful, spirited reaction to Pope Francis’ decision to allow priests to bless same-sex couples seeking a blessing. His decision, over which he agonized for a long time, was bent out of shape, and stretched to fit the agenda of those who wanted the Pope to consider same-sex unions as marriages approved and blessed by the Church. 

Understandably, he has been vehemently criticized also from within the Catholic Church by those who are concerned that the Pope is, thus, giving the impression of blessing a seriously sinful lifestyle. However, Pope Francis is very concerned about the spiritual wellbeing of same-sex couples as indicated by God’s revealed truth in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. 

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be misled; neither fornicators nor idol worshipers nor adulterers nor effeminate nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the avaricious nor drunkards nor slanderers nor thieves will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Pope Francis is worried about their eternal salvation. Hence, he points out that no one of God’s children can be denied a blessing sought with a humble heart and a good intention.

People in a same-sex union can humbly seek a blessing from a Catholic priest provided that the blessing is sought completely apart from any setting which might give the impression that it is a ratification of their union as if it were a Catholic marriage. The blessing is to help them embrace a lifestyle that is opened to the light of God’s Word and shows goodwill in corresponding to God’s grace.

Our second reading (Colossians 3:12-21) offers very valuable suggestions on how to improve the environment which should be present in all Christian families. It is an environment based on self-sacrifice, and selfless love aimed at curbing our innate self-centeredness and self-interest in the spirit of genuine humility. Thus, this reading offers a clear incentive to anyone outside the traditional family setting to seek the Lord’s blessings.

Since in non-traditional family settings children are made-to-order products to stroke one’s ego or to satisfy personal wants, it is impossible for self-giving and self-sacrifice to flourish for the good of others.

Far from walking on the path to holiness, these children of God are heading away from the Kingdom. Hence, a blessing sought with a humble and sincere heart might be the first step towards creating a family closer to the one designed by God.

If we are already living in a traditional family setting, and we take seriously God’s suggestions on how to make our family live even more according to his design, we know that we have our work cut out. Thus, regardless of the settings of our family, we should all seek God’s blessings with humility of heart and much goodwill.

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin