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Homily, Feast of the Holy Family, 30.12.22

If God’s gift of marriage is the crowning of creation, his gift of the family is the crowning glory of marriage. Man and woman were created in his image and likeness, but that image is perfected in the gift of children. The family is the image of the Blessed Trinity. Family love is intended to be the icon of the love between the persons of the Trinity. It is an ever-creative love, a faithful love, an indissoluble love. When God commanded Adam and Eve to go forth and multiply and fill the earth, and when he submitted the earth to their stewardship, what he was doing was to send them to look after the earth with the same love with which they looked after each other and their children.


So, the origin of the family is quite simply God. Its nature, its vocation and its mission are established by God. Just as the human being was not invented by human beings, so the family was not invented by human beings. It is sacred to God; it is inviolable in nature. Its foundation is not only the faithful and exclusive love between husband and wife, but the very love of the Trinity itself. No more than the human being can be reinvented by humanity, no more than marriage can be reinvented by humanity, so neither the family can be reinvented by humanity.


Sadly, as we all know, certain trends and ideologies of recent decades, including today in Scotland, believe that these fundamental building blocks of the creation of humanity by God can be changed by acts of parliament. These attempts to undermine the law of God by human decree are simply a reflection of original sin. For, as Adam and Eve refused to accept the limit God placed on them, and instead listened to the deceptive counsel of Satan to become gods in their own right, so those who would redefine male and female, marriage and family and the sacred meaning of human sexuality have likewise been deceived into thinking, first, that God does not exist or that He only exists according to their own tastes, and, second, that they have no obligation to respect the limits placed by the Creator if they are to have a true understanding of these basic human realities.


Now, of course we have to accept and recognise that marriages break down, that families can become toxic, that human sexuality can be complex, painful and even bewildering for many people. The human condition is marked by sin, by weakness, by brokenness and by failure. This is all so true. It is also true that by God’s command every human being must be respected, loved and welcomed no matter what their personal circumstances may be. But none of these things can change the will and plan of the Creator for man, woman, marriage and the family. Rather, His Plan must be the reason for which we reach out to those who are suffering from the effects of sin in these matters, even when it’s not their own sin, but the sin of others, which has caused those effects. Accepting others and loving them does not mean condoning any wrong they do or wrong done to them. That would be a false love, a false compassion. On the contrary, it is precisely because they are loved that they need to be led forwards from where they are with care and true compassion to understand and embrace God’s plan for them.


The will of God is not the enemy of our happiness, healing or peace, but their guarantee. It is not by snatching from God’s hands his dominion over us that we somehow think we can do a better job than He. How often in the Old Testament, the Lord laments the mess and destruction his people get themselves into because they would not obey his will. If only you had listened to me, your peace would be flowing like a river, your happiness flourishing like fertile fields! It is not God who is to blame for the breakdown of marriage and the family, and it is not humanity that can fix it on its own. Only obedience to God can do that. Instead of passing laws which further debilitate the foundations of society and mislead people into thinking that gender, marriage, family and sexuality are whatever you want them to be, we need to return to God and to form citizens who will seek public office to promote policies and programmes which protect and defend a common sense understanding of these basic human realities. Our society needs this. Our children deserve it. Our families will be grateful for it.


The Holy Family is certainly a unique reality in the history of humanity, but it teaches a fundamental truth which goes back to creation itself and which will remain valid until the second coming of Christ: the family is God’s work, God’s prerogative, God’s precious gift. We ignore that at our peril. But if we embrace it with humility and obedience, we will preserve society from collapsing in on itself as the result of human arrogance and folly. Through the prayers of the Holy Family, may the Blessed Trinity itself bless our families, defend the family and raise up public servants today who will promote and defend God’s plan for the family and for society. The survival of civilization itself could very well depend on it.