As we begin a new civil new year (2009), Holy Mother Church celebrated the birthday of Our Savior (Christmas), the Holy Family (the Sunday after Christmas), Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord (Sunday after Epiphany).
These liturgical events are more than historical remembrances of the past, however. They not only connect us in the present but they also point us toward the future. Jesus entered human history by becoming one of us in the Incarnation whereby He united a fully human nature to a fully divine nature under one divine Personhood. This all happened in the context of a FAMILY. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is not incidental nor accidental. God chose to enter our world and to effect salvation vis-a-vis the institution of the family. The shepherds and the Magi found the Christ-child with His mother and her husband. Jesus was born and raised IN A FAMILY. Back then, there was but one concept of family, namely, children living with their natural parents who also happened to married to each other. Marriage and Family were inseparable.
Today, our secular culture and some of the politically correct aggressively seek to redefine both marriage and family. Marriage is the permanent, faithful and God willing fruitful union of ONE MAN + ONE WOMAN in a sacred covenant sealed with and in love. That love is both possessive and sacrificial; it gives and takes. Neither the State (civil government) or even the Church can redefine or remake what God originally established as perennially good, necessary and true. Some fall into the trap of thinking that it is unfair to deny same sex marriage. It is no more unfair to respect, defend and uphold the natural restrictions on marriage to one man and one woman when polygamous marriages or under-age marriages are denied. If two men or two women can get married, then why not three men or one man and three wives? Why exclude those under 18? Are these not unfair limitations? No. They are reasonable and based on the essence and foundation of marriage.
Likewise, the state and the church have a vested interest in defending real marriage by respecting its restriction to one man and one woman. Better yet would be the day when frequent and easy divorce also leave the scene. Stability is rooted in permanence and integrity is rooted in fidelity. The procreative dimension, however, as Pope Paul VI pointed out in Humanae Vitate, is equally indivisible from the unitive aspect of marriage. Love and Life are the foundations of family, society and religion. Not only did Jesus grow up in a family (in Nazareth), He would also perform His first public miracle (at His mother’s intercession) at a wedding feast (in Cana) where a new family was being initiated. Christ told us to pray to God OUR Father, implying that we are brothers and sisters in the Lord, albeit by adoption. BAPTISM makes us a child of God AND thereby you and I become adopted into the FAMILY of God.
When society attacks and dismantles traditional family values and seeks to unravel the fabric of civilization by reinventing marriage, the best and most prudent response is to DEFEND traditional marriage and traditional family (parents living with their child under one roof. Baptism is our being born again and allow us to appreciate being members of God’s family we also call the Church. The Pope (Roman Pontiff) is the visible head of this family just as Saint Joseph was head of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Each diocesan family is headed by the local bishop and every parish family is under the shepherding of the pastor. Hence, priests are called “Father” and our spouse is known as “Holy Mother Church.” These family references are essential and substantial. Tinker with marriage and the family and you undermine the foundation and cornerstone of both the Church and Civilization. Family is based on and operates on LOVE, sacrificial and receptive. A man and a woman GIVE themselves to each other and they TAKE each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, all the days of their lives.
Likewise, one baptized, you and I are permanent members of the faith family we call the Church and we must be willing to sacrifice for her and to receive all the graces and blessings she offers us.