The Values of a Strong Family…As Jesus Willed it
In October 1962, an important global event happened, and no, it wasn’t the release of the first Bond movie. The Second Vatican Council was convened at the Vatican and Pope John XXIII delivered his opening remarks. This was a special event because it was the second of its kind nearly 100 years after the first. What was so important that over 2,500 Catholic Bishops and other religious authorities from all over the world needed to convene at the Vatican in four sessions spanning over 3 years?
One of the key messages delivered during the Council – and one which had been handed down throughout the history of the Church – was the value of the family. More specifically, the Vatican II Council emphasized the responsibility of parents to educate their children. But in order for them to succeed in this task, the family needs to be founded on strong Christian values such as love and dedication to serving God. In other words, the family needs to be founded on values similar to those of Christ’s Church. This was a consistent message emphasized during the Second Vatican Council and has remained so till date.
For many decades, the church and the family institutions have been under constant threat by contemporary trends such as secularism. It was necessary for the Church to re-affirm its role as a symbol of Christian unity, and a large family of believers. The keyword is “family”. The family and its values have been consistently emphasized in the Bible and in all Christian teachings. In fact, it is an institution that Jesus Christ often alluded to in his teachings about how people should live and coexist with one another.
See, the success of the family is guaranteed only if it mimics the values on which the Church is built. Jesus willed that the Church be founded on love, humility, sincerity, and honesty towards everyone, including our enemies. St Josemaria Escrivá, the founder of the Opus Dei and a renowned servant of the Christ in the Church, was passionate about family and related values. In an address containing practical teachings on family and marriage, he acknowledged that people have defects, and that we should own up to that reality, but at the same time, work tirelessly to minimize them so that we can focus on loving others.
I’d like to dwell on this point because often when we think of family, we think of only our loved ones, by default. And rightly so, because we share a strong bond; our parents brought us into the world, and we have siblings whom we’ve grown with and loved throughout our lives. In the same light, there are many families that experience discord and are clouded by constant conflicts. It is important to consider how Jesus would want us to conduct ourselves in such scenarios. At the height of conflict, we have an obligation to love, and to forgive.
Today, as our continent Africa embraces the interconnectivity powered by technologies such as the internet, and social networking, the family institution stands threatened. Are we constantly seeking to build and maintain positive relationships that exemplify family values such as love, generosity, forgiveness, and compassion? Or are we caught up in the chaos of social connectivity, consumerism and secularism so that our Christian values become gradually eroded and replaced? These are some of the pertinent questions we should ask ourselves about family, on a routine basis.
In my experience, all the advice and answers we need to determine how we should build and maintain concrete family values are all contained in the Bible, and the Church. Those areas are the best places
This article was written by Samuel Githogori.
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