28 December 2014
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
The Holy Family of Nazareth. Today is the feast of the Holy Family to whom the Cathedral church in Kuwait City is dedicated. It is only fitting that we honour the Holy Family of Nazareth, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, at this time of year when we celebrate the birth of the most important member – Christ the Lord. God who is rich in mercy, chose to become human like us and to be born into a family as a child. The eternal Lord and God, Creator of the Universe, came into the world as a finite human being in the form of a dependent child, who needed the care and protection of his mother Mary and of Joseph to whom she was betrothed.
We heard in the gospel reading how Mary and Joseph, according to the custom of their time, brought the child Jesus to Jerusalem in order to present him to the Lord. By doing so, they confirmed the fact that the Child was granted to them as a gift and that he truly belongs to God. This is so true with all children born to married couples. Life is God’s first gift to us and though new life is produced through the love of a husband and wife, every child is a gift from God and ultimately belongs to him. This is important to keep in mind today, since there is a selfish mentality spreading in the world of personal possession, in which children are considered as objects owned by their parents and in which some adults think that the human body belongs only to the individual human being, as if we mortal beings created human life and not God.
The Family and the Church. On this special occasion, we recall the significance and importance of the family in the life of the Church. The Church always considers the family as the ‘domestic Church’, that is, the basic community of faith, hope and love, in which father and mother dedicate their lives to loving one another till death do them part and in which spouses have the obligation of raising their children in the faith. The traditional family will always remain at the centre of the Church’s attention. Healthy families guarantee the well-being and future of all societies and so it is our duty to do our best to develop our families into the best communities they can be.
Modern challenges facing the family. Everyone who is a parent realizes how difficult it is to be a parent these days. As the saying goes: ‘it is so easy to become a parent, but so hard to be a parent’. There are great demands and pressures placed upon the shoulders of parents, and not everyone can cope with the difficulties. Even the best parents can come across problems with their children, both younger and older.
The traditional family unit is also challenged today, since we have a wide range of new family relationships developing throughout the world. Many more women are working today than at any time in the past. Some are forced to work due to financial reasons, others due to the fact that they are single mothers. More children in the world are growing up today in single-parent families, due to increases in separation and divorce of couples. An ever increasing number of children are growing up today without the care of their parents, resulting in some becoming more attached to their nannies than to their own mothers and fathers.
Irregularities are also slowly spreading such as homosexual partners adopting children, or heterosexual couples who decide not to marry at all, yet opt to have children without first making a permanent commitment to each other. Along with this, fewer young people are getting married today. Many prefer to stay single as long as they can. Others are reluctant to get married possibly due to the obligations of marriage or a certain fear of ending up separated and/or divorced. Some are unwilling to accept the necessary sacrifices that married life demands of them and they decide to stay home with their parents.
Along with these problems, there are also many families who suffer in the world. Too many families have been displaced due to war. Others have been separated by force or due to economic reasons. Fewer children are being born than ever before, especially in the West. Even Christ knew the life of a poor refugee, since Mary and Joseph had to flee in order to avoid the massacre of the new born male children which King Herod had ordered upon the Jewish babies of Bethlehem.
As we get older, we realize the importance of the family and how we can all experience a true sense of belonging within the family unit. May we all make the effort to improve our relations with our parents, children and with our relatives, indeed because God, chose to be part of a family and thereby showed how much he values and blesses the family community. If love is maintained within us and our families, it shall then produce true Christian virtues and help develop us and our world into what we should be.
Our faith can assist us very much in our efforts. Parents provide the best education to their children by being true believers in Jesus Christ and leading an exemplary life of faith. By heeding the advice of the Lord and strengthening our bond of love with him and those who are dearest to us, in deeds as well as words, we can rest assured that blessings will come upon us and our families.