Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Family: A Wonderful and Fundamental Community

From homilies of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (Saint John Paul II), Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, Christmas week 1968 and 1969.

"My dear brothers and sisters, today we are all filled with the Christmas joy which comes from the faith that God has been born into the world. However, our joy must expand and spread, so that each year it embraces new thoughts and events and brings them into the joy of Christmas, in order that the mystery of the Incarnation may grow fuller and fuller each year until the end of time."

"The mystery of the Holy Family concerns each individual family in a specific way, both husband and wife but also that special community which begins with their marriage, in other words, the community of parents and children. Whether this is a community of mature people or of those still in formation, it is a wonderful and fundamental community, and without it the human race would not exist.

"While we can change the parts of an engine, the fundamental human community of the family cannot be substituted. It must be served and helped to develop. It is not licit to destroy it, since it is a work of God."

When God "gave [man and woman] the power to transmit life, he invested them with the divine power of creation. Thus the work of creation continues through the family in every age and generation of human history. As parents, you are partners with God and share in his work in a way in keeping with the dignity of the human person. The Creator wants the work of creation to be manifested in every human family and, through the family, in every people and society and in humanity as a whole."

Jesus comes to redeem and fulfill creation. "The work of redemption shows us the full value of everything human and especially of marriage and the family. It is as if God himself  symbolized in the family by every newborn child — said to every couple: 'See how beautiful it is, and how it is both human and divine!' This is the meaning of today's feast.

"The divine and human beauty that exists in the family can only be gained through constant effort. It is not ready-made, but must be worked for by every couple. We are quite right in saying that marriage is based on love; we find this truth in the gospel. However, we must immediately add that true love makes us capable of taking on the tasks and problems of married and family life and that if it does not give us this capacity it cannot be called love. We should therefore be careful not to debase this wonderful word that was spoken by the Son of God as the greatest commandment.

"Through marriage and the family Christ carries out his work of redemption, which he won for us on the cross. However, just as Christ came to resurrection through the cross, so too, difficulties and hardship bring us to the true values of marital and family love and real formation and development: first and foremost the mutual formation of husband and wife and then the education of their children."

"We are all of us overwhelmed and dumbfounded in the face of the divine love which took on human flesh and entered into the human spirit. We compare our miserable human love with his immeasurable love, and we pray that love may grow within us, that it may never be extinguished despite any difficulties or obstacles, and that it may never dim but always grow stronger. May it never dim or fail, particularly in our families, in our marriages, and in relations between children and parents and between old and young... May it grow ever stronger within our society and withstand every effort to undermine or destroy it. 

"These are our wishes as we gather at this eucharistic table on which in a few moments, as at every Mass, Christ will be born to become our bread and to nourish us. Let us say to him today: 'Welcome! Come to us, be our nourishment, and teach us to love.'"