How families transform the world

Pope Francis, in the Joy of Love, shows how families can help transform the world. He says:

“The family lives its spirituality by being both a domestic church and a vital cell for transforming the world.”

But it is hard to see how families, in all their messiness and struggles, can possibly be a domestic church, never mind a vital cell for transforming the world. For how can families possibly transform the world when the children can’t even tidy up after themselves?

For although families are a great source of tenderness and kindness, they are also, if we’re honest, a source of arguments, falling outs, fighting, tantrums, rages, sulks and tears. Lots and lots of tears.

But Pope Francis reminds us that Families do not drop down from heaven perfectly formed [325], rather families need to constantly grow and mature in love. They are the first place where we learn to love, as well as the first place where we receive love [323].

They are also the place where we learn how to forgive and reconcile with each other despite the hurtful words we hurl at each other only moments ago. Families become the place where we mature as individuals and learn essential community values [52], for they are the place where love is forged through the struggles and trials of real life.

And at the heart of family life is the sacrament of marriage, which is not to be seen merely as some sort of social convention or empty ritual [72], it’s a vocation to be a witness to God’s love [72] in the world.

For, in marriage, the joy of love is nurtured, which creates an expansion of the heart[128], a love that continues to thrive even during the inevitable joy and struggles found in life [128].

For married couples who experience this power of love know that this love calls us to go out for the fruits of marriage are to help others. [322]

So families are not a refuge from society, they are a place where we learn the experience of the common good[70]. And when a family welcomes others and reaches out, it becomes a symbol of the domestic church [390] where we see everyone as brothers and sisters.

And families can also proclaim the Gospel by caring for the poor, by protecting creation and the unborn child, by standing together with other families including those most in need, and transforming unjust social structures.

So, the next time we look at families, with all their obvious imperfections and struggles, let’s remember that families are the places where we learn community values which knit a firm social fabric that binds the world together.

Category: Family
About The Author
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Dublin, Ireland, has been chosen by Pope Francis to host the next World Meeting of Families. Families and others from all over the world will gather in Dublin from 21-26 August 2018 to celebrate their lives together, to share their experiences from different parts of the world, to reflect on the different challenges they face and to grow together in faith.  The chosen by Pope Francis for WMOF2018 is The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.

See www.worldmeeting2018.ie