Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Family
"Happy are they who dwell in Your house, O Lord" focuses our thoughts on what the Judaic-Christian tradition considers to be an essential of happy family life. It is no coincidence that as people leave God out of their lives, social structures become weakened. A major concern today is the constant erosion of family values.

Ecclesiasticus 3:2-6; 12-14. Here we see described family values as known and recognised by Christ - the dignity and responsibility of parenthood; respect and gratitude by children towards their parents particularly in their advanced years.

Colossians 3: 12-21 - Awareness of their special character as disciples of Christ, Christians attach particular importance to the role of the family as an educational force, particularly by parents respecting each other as collaborators with  the Almighty in the work of life.

Matthew 2: 13-15;19-23. Joseph finds himself confronted with an entirely unusual set of circumstances to which he and Mary had to adjust so that their special mission could be fulfilled.

Point 1: Depending on who is talking, we can either believe that everything in the garden is rosy; or that our social structure is on the point of collapse! As always, the truth lies somewhere in between these two extremes. There is no doubt that for many, life is more agreeable than it used to be. But there are also many who are stressed out, angry and pessimistic. In recent years, hardly an institution or convention of Australian life has not been challenged or subjected to radical change. The present era has seen relentless change on a broad front. One of the areas most affected has been the family. A major contributing factor in this regard has been the redefined roles of men and women in our society; also, as modern industrial policy switches to a global economy, many no longer feel as though they are part of a community or that they are valued members in a particular workforce; consequently, security of employment no longer exists. But, I believe, even more damaging has been the impact of changes in our educational system. Here, the thinking appears to have been that a value based programme is undesirable in a multi cultural society; it is better to be "nothing" rather than "something". The real result of this experiment is to have produced a culture that gives our children nothing greater than themselves to believe in other than acquiring wealth and status. Consequently many are left with a sense of failure.

Point 2: The traditional family, we are told, is finished. May be! That there are changes in family relationships no one will deny - some of them good, some not so good! Some of these changes are merely history repeating itself - e.g. greater independence early in life for children; the wife making an economic contribution to the family. Other changes - family size, longer life expectancy and many more years of parents alone after the children have gone their separate ways also need to be considered. More recently there is the growing acceptance of one parent families and, even more problematic, the move for single sex unions and parenthood.

Conclusion: It is important to consider these problems of human relationship so that marriage does not come to be regarded as a "legalised" outlet for sexual expression bestowing 'respectability' on those contracting, or an instrument for defining  property rights. The evolution of marriage as a partnership providing a stabile frame-work for the procreation and education of the family is at the very heart of the culture forming our social structure. As a noted commentator observed -"It takes two to tango; but it takes three -God, husband and wife - to marry"!

Scriptural reference: May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 15:5-6)