Tomorrow we celebrate the entry of the Holy Family into Egypt in the first century AD, who remained there for three years, six months and ten days. It roamed Egypt from east to west and from north to south, stopping at many stations (about 25 stations), visiting and performing miracles.
I want to talk to you today about how could your family be blessed? How do we live the idea of the family as wanted by Christ? St. John Chrysostom has a beautiful phrase: “The family is an icon of the Church.” When a church building is finished, we decorate it with icons. So as well each family is an icon that beautifies the church. Is your home really a good icon, or a distorted and neglected one?
+ Christ is the origin of the family: We believe that the marriage bond is between a man and a woman, with Christ in the midst of them. Therefore, the marriage bond is threefold. On the day of the crowning, you returned home as three people, not two, you became bound with Christ. Is Christ happy with you and your homes?. Christ is the beginning of the family, as if Jesus Christ holds the husband’s hand and the wife’s hand, and both spouses hold one each others; this is what makes the marriage bond a strong one in the presence of Christ. That is why we believe in the unity of marriage, being married to one partner, and we believe in the permanence of marriage and that it can only be dissolved by sin or death. We also believe that every marriage has fruits, whether children, virtues, or services. We never believe that Christian marriage is infertile.
How then can our homes and families be sacred and blessed?
+ (1) Love: God gave us love as human beings “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). When a person marries and has children, he takes from Christ’s love and presents to his family and this love is not only in words. The survival of life is through the true love that God puts in our hearts. Love is a very important passion, and passion is a blessing from our Lord. The family is the entity of love.
And if you love your sons and daughters with a true love, they will grow up knowing God. However, if love is absent, treating your children harshly, then the boy or girl will have a bad image of God. The bible says that “One who is full loathes honey from the comb (1),” the satiated soul of love in the home, so no matter what the temptations may be, children wouldn’t fall. The rightly-built house is built on the love of God, and fills its members with love. It is the father’s responsibility to contain his wife and children.
Love, my beloved, means that I forgive the other when he has done wrong to me, whether a partner or children. As love means to forget the abuse; this is the love of Christ who forgave us on the cross despite our sins and weaknesses, and does not reproach anyone (as he did with the Samaritan and Zacchaeus). Then, show your love clearly to your children, so as to live a happy life and make their childhood a lovely and a joyful one. One of the very important expressions to convey love is cuddling. Hug your children, so that they are satisfied with your passion of love. Your hugs send them a direct message that they are of great value to us, and we are pleased with them.
+ (2) Conversation: Dialogue and conversation is complementary to love. What a person enjoys most is to speak with whom he loves, because man is a speaking being, God has given him the gift of speech in order to convey thoughts and feelings. So, what is the quality of your words with your family? Do you schedule time to talk with them? There should be a dialogue between family members at least half an hour a day, without being preoccupied with the mobile phone, or problems or etc. When we talk we know each other more. Teach your children to have conversation with you and how to apologize when they make a mistake. Dialogue between adults and children is based on love. Our problem is that people may enter the dialogue as if in a fight! There is a dialogue, then there is a quarrel and a wall between us, that is, I speak but none answers! We read in the Gospels: ““Come now, let us settle the matter, says the Lord (2).”
Men are naturally not talkative, whereas women are the opposite. Male does not like details, but female elaborates on them. This difference is natural, so they must be understood by one another. Learn to listen to your children also and do not interrupt them, but respect their feelings. Dialogue begins with love, grows with love, and continues with love. If you are a husband or wife or son or daughter, old or young, you need to take care of the other, and say a word of encouragement, a prayer, a kind word to them...we all need this.
(3) Freedom: Freedom does not mean disorder and chaos. There must be a margin of freedom. Whatever your son or daughter does, cuddle them to keep them safe. Give them some freedom, teach your children to have a personality in the community where they live, to be able to express themselves, and have the ability to choose, thus when they grow up they can make right decisions. Freedom is linked to our Christian life and to the civil law where you live. When you stress your children, the result is that they hide their private affairs from you, making multiple mistakes that may grow with them even they may leave the house. So, you are the reason if you do not know how to embrace and contain your children. Freedom means respect for the other, even if he makes a mistake. Freedom means guidance, so guide your son to the right path.
Freedom means to act positively. Freedom means attention, respect, guidance, positivity and concern. For example, teach your children to choose dignified outfit that are appropriate for the place. Playing outfits are different from those for the Mass, summer vacation and at home... Teach them not to be tempted by everything trendy, but to do the right thing. We must pay attention to much stuff while we are raising our children, and let us remember the saying of the Bible: ““I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything (3)”. Love, conversation and freedom are the hallmarks that your family is holy and a blessed one. May God bless every home and every family. To our God be all glory and honor from now and forever, Amen.
(1) Proverbs 27:7. (2)I saiah 1:18. (3) Corinthians 6:12.