Reflection for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
Christmas is the sacred season when we are all called to remember to carry – and to keep on carrying – the Christ into our families and homes, where the forever reign of justice and peace, will have its inconspicuous beginnings.
Modeled to the life of Christ, the family becomes a school of love, responsibility and sharing. It is within this domestic context of struggle for survival, individual identity and self-worth, where love is first felt and experienced; where a sense of responsibility for each other is more completely understood; and where sharing is actualized in all its authentic simplicity. One’s life in a family with Christ, consequently becomes the model of the love, responsibility and sharing one brings into maturity, into future families, and into the larger society. Through families centered on Christ, we are thus assured of sustaining generations who know how to think and act selflessly, preserving justice and peace for the ages.
So, we may reasonably posit that no other crises in contemporary times have struck deeper into the heart of humanity than those which involve the corruption or destruction of the family. Today critically oriented to achieving success in the modern world, as early in life as possible, the family is now less perceived as a cohesive social unit where interdependence abounds, than as a place where unbridled freedoms are fought for; where the pursuit of pleasures is encouraged; and where personal ambitions have the highest priority.
Tragically, marriage is no longer a covenant which we believe God himself binds; it has turned into a transactional ‘contract’ which we think we can ‘legitimately’ dissolve when ‘previously-agreed terms and conditions’ have not been met or fully satisfied. Sex is no longer an act in which we believe God cooperates to produce children, and in which we believe he bestows the blessings needed to fortify the marital bond; it is now framed as a mere biological drive which must be satiated and not repressed, if one wishes to always feel ‘fully human.’ Children are no longer viewed as fragile ‘others’ for whom we must be fully responsible and accountable, nor as God’s gifts to us, who being our living extensions, are what can truly make us ‘fully human’; they are now considered as ‘lesser priorities’ or even as nuisances interfering with, if not as heirs forced to perpetuate, our temporal legacies and dynasties.
A “broken family” is a family who has chosen to “break away” from God, a family fully convinced of the uselessness of feeling for, listening to and reflecting upon the divine Voice. The home of a “broken family” will hardly have any sacred spaces, only altars in exultation and praise of the “I”: “I choose to live the life I want, and I choose to live life to the fullest.” “I am the master of my own destiny, and the lord of my own universe.” “I have the right to make marriages that will uplift me, and the right to break marriages that will depress me.” “I have the right to use my body in whatever way and for whatever purpose I desire.” “I will have children only when I can ascertain clear benefits in having them, only when these benefits can far outweigh the costs of feeding and educating them.” “I cannot dictate to others how to choose to live their lives, but I may as well not care about what happens to them when they fall victim to their wrong choices.” A “broken family” is a family where interdependence is rapidly and irreversibly yielding to independence as an absolute. We are all now in this family fixated on the “I”, on decisions and directions solely dedicated to “my happiness”, without the Christ as a partner, without the Father as the foundation.
Consequently, we in the larger society, have been reduced to separable individuals doubtful of supernatural succor and support, and alienated from each other, leaving all of us virtually alone to bear through earthly existence, the inevitable burdens and frustrations in attaining “my happiness”. “Broken families” are weakened families, devoid of the strength that can only come from the joy of love of and for God, and of and for others. “Broken families” can only lead to anxiety, despair, injustice and violence; “broken families” can only lead to a “broken world.”
Every family is therefore confronted with two vital decisions: the first is whether or not to allow the Spirit to be its soul, its inner conscience guiding all future family decisions; and the second is whether or not to totally respond with the Spirit’s inspiration, to offer our entire selves for others. May every Christmas be an ongoing renewal of a promise of families to keep alive the flame of these two decisions, and to heal our “broken world” with exemplary, Spirit-driven acts of love, responsibility and sharing!
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.