At creation , God conceived humanity in family: creates man, then woman and commands that they fill the earth.
Sadly, sin, the choice of self-will over God-will, came before children. Cain a murderer.
At redemption, God did “take two”: this time he chose first a woman, then a man, both grounded on God’s will, and the Saviour was born.
The family is a creation of God’s will. That means that a family finds its true identity and meaning in doing God’s will.
If family life is not founded on God’s will, it will be driven by self-will, and self-will will either mean it never reaches the fulfilment God wants for it, or self-will will tear it apart.
What is God’s will for the family? That it be founded on the pact of mutual love between a man and a woman. Exclusive. Lifelong. Open in God’s way to God’s gift of children. And when children come along, that they be reared within that pact of love to come to know and love God in Jesus Christ and his Church.
The Holy Family was holy because each of its members did the will of God personally and supported one another in doing that will. Certainly, it was a unique family. None of them found it easy. All three were celibates in obedience to God, as if to point the family beyond itself to its true destiny, to be with God.
The Christmas story has the shepherds and the three Kings or Magi come to adore the Child and honour the parents. Shepherds could represent the world of work. The Kings or Magi could represent government authorities and the academic world. If a society wants to flourish, the public authorities, the world of labour, the academic world and every other sector must put the family at the centre. Without doing that, society will weaken its own foundations and collapse.
How is a family to know the will of God? That’s easy. The ten commandments, the precepts of the Gospel, including the Beatitudes, prayer, especially divine worship in Mass and Sacraments. Easy to know, not always easy to do because of self-will.
The Lord is well aware of the many threats to the family, from inside and outside. He is well aware of the difficulties, the failures, the broken marriages and broken hearts. His mercy and compassion are without doubt and without end. But the solution is not to lie down and say that failure is the new normal. Where brokenness seems irreparable, prayer, penance and repentance can at least heal the heart. Anyone who has experienced breakdown would most probably have preferred that it did not happen, for it’s instinctive in us to want marriage and family to be happy, to last, to be our bedrock and haven.
So, as believers and as citizens we should throw our support and efforts behind strengthening marriage and the family as intended by God. On the health of marriage and the family the future of the world and of the Church depends. That’s no exaggeration. May the Holy Family welcome into its shade all those who are survivors of broken marriages and families, and may it strengthen and protect those who are still fighting the good fight of marriage and the family in honour of God and for the sake of society.