family of faith

Family First A Reflection Part Two

FAMILY FIRST – A REFLECTION

PART 2

 When he was about his Father’ business,

is when we hear the passage that opened Part 1 of this reflection. (Mt 12: 46-50)

Later on in his ministry we hear an even more radical statement

That involves family!

“Anyone who comes to me without hating (that is being totally detached from)

Father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters

Yes, even his own life too,

cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:25-27)

 And let us not rationalize away this statement of Jesus!

It is repeated three more times in the Gospels! (Lk 18:24-30; Mk 10:28-31; Mt.19:23-30)

‘So Lord, what are you saying about family!’

In all of these passages family is talked of in the context of wealth, possessions.

In the passage just quoted from Luke, Jesus addresses the whole crowd

that is following him.

He goes on to say to them “none of you can be my disciple

Without giving up all that he owns!” (Lk 14: 33)

Even chicks are cajoled, and in the end

pushed out of the nest, their comfort zone,

to continue their nurturing in the daily life.

And they go on to repeat the cycle of life.

Jesus is pushing us! –

and, none too gently into our faith life.

                                                                                                    Family is a wealth!

It is the place for nurturing of mind, body and spirit –

within the family of the Trinity to which all belong.

Family is a wealth in the Lord, for the world.

Its wealth is not found as an enclosed genetic family –

but, is found, as seed that falls to the ground and dies –

thereby, bearing much fruit.

We must die to all we own, and all that owns us,

in order to bear fruit.

While Jesus was on one of his journeys with his apostles

who had left everyone, everything-

They entered a Samarian town.

He tells his disciples to look at the harvest-

that is the town’s people –

They are ready to be harvested –

 They are eager to listen. (Jn 4)

His followers are free to meet the need.

These Samaritans will soon become a part of the family of faith.

Remember that Jesus had just said to his followers that

they must leave all to follow him.

They had left family and wives and business endeavours

to follow him, in a relationship of trust and love!

We tend to say “No way!  Jesus would never ask this!”

He did!

Then we say, in order to defend ourselves –

“Well that is a rarity!”

It must have been meant for just that time and place –

because it makes no sense!

Let us take a look at ourselves!

Is it a rarity in the societal system we endorse?

We are passionate about our sports!

We are passionate about our entertainers –

whether they be musicians on the road,

football players, hockey players, actors.

We admire business tycoons and the like!

We do not question that great parts of their life are away from home!

That is okay – it is part of the job!

That is the price of being famous!

Therefore it is okay!

And our faith is placed in the money earned-

not in the Faith lived!

We are afraid to take the risk of trusting in the Lord!

We are afraid to discover

what he has in mind for those who love him.

We are afraid of what we cannot control.

We are afraid of sacrifice.

Everyone  – everyone, even children

are called to be missionary!

Jesus told the people to let the children come to him.

Look at want the infant Jesus did!

His mission started at his birth!

Look at what Jesus at 12 years of age did!
Children have a missionary role!

We will make sure, do anything to ensure that

children get on the best teams, become whatever they want,

or we want them to be, in the mindset of the world!

Even if –

 success means sending them away from home.

We brag about their success!

Our humanity craves security –

Craves belonging, craves identity

craves power and control.

Our world strives to create itself around these yearnings.

And we as people of faith

are terrified to trust in the security of Christian community!

The Sermon on the Mount

after more than two thousand years is still put in wraps!

The poor of the world are forced to live it!

And, by our way of life we are happy to keep it that way!

The family of faith is our permanent family –

Our eternal family.

This is the family for which Jesus prayed

At the last Supper-

Praying that we would “be one”,

with Him and his Father,

in the Love of the Trinity.

For all eternity!

This family of faith,

this family of baptism,

is the family that Jesus sent out

to the whole world

telling them to continue to

Baptize

“In the name of the Father,

And of the Son,

And of the Holy Spirit
Knowing
– that is trusting in love –

“That I am with you always!”(Mt 28:19,20)

What a different world this would be

if all families

within the family of faith

were to live in  trust, putting their lives

into the hands of the Abba of all creation.

Trusting, that he will provide for all,
everything
that we need –
in order to respond
to his call
to love one another!

Not all that we crave, or tell ourselves that we need!

We wonder why we have so few priests!

There is nothing to wonder about!

Over many, many years

We have eroded into a secularized faith.

We want eternity,

 but

we want to eat all the cake we can here and now!

Here are some passages to dare to take to heart realizing that the people in these passages are not just a conglomerate of adults.
These are real people with real lives, with real families!

As you pray recall Jesus saying
“Let the little children come to me, it is to such as these that the kingdom belongs.”
He was not speaking touchy, mushy words.  He meant them!

Children are part of the missionaries of the Church.
Remember what happened to John the Baptist in the womb!

 Remember as you contemplate these following passages
that by our Baptism we are baptised as “priest, prophet and king” in the family of God!

How prophetically are we willing to live? Is martyrdom in our vocabulary
– bloody or daily martyrdom?

Are we willing to invest our whole lives in the Word of the Lord!

And in him build his kingdom on earth?

“They remained faithful to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. And everyone was filled with awe; the apostles worked many signs and miracles

 All who believed were together and had all things in common;  they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.  Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)

It is important to note that the ‘holding of possessions in common’, referred to in the preceding and following excerpt is a response to the overwhelming love of the Redemption!  It is not a requirement imposed by the Apostles!

“ Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4: 32-37)

 

 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Mt. 25:31 – 40)


“And Jesus after washing their feet said to them  ………. I give you a new commandment:  love one another, just as I have loved you.  It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.”  (Jn. 13: 34,35)

And this wonderful passage!  One of my favorites, is  from IS 58:

“Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke?
Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house;
Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: “Here I am!”
If you remove the yoke from among you, the accusing finger, and malicious speech;
If you lavish your food on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted;
Then your light shall rise in the darkness, and your gloom shall become like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always and satisfy your thirst in parched places,
will give strength to your bones and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a flowing spring whose waters never fail.
Your people shall rebuild the ancient ruins; the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;
“Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you, “Restorer of ruined dwellings.”

Authentic Sabbath Observance That Leads to Blessing
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from following your own pursuits on my holy day;
If you call the sabbath a delight, the LORD’s holy day glorious;
If you glorify it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs—
Then you shall delight in the LORD ,and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Is 58:6-14)

The following passages are included for reflection because our Catholic faith does not find its bases in Scripture alone, but also in Tradition and Teaching of the Holy Spirit promised to the Church by Jesus. While these cannot disagree with Scripture, they do elucidate the Revelation found in Scripture, providing ongoing teaching for the Church.

“It is well known how strong were the words used by the Fathers of the Church to describe the proper attitude of persons who possess anything, towards persons in need. To quote Saint Ambrose: ‘You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his. For what has been given in common for the use of all, you have arrogated to yourself.’ The world is given to all, and not only to the rich.” ( On the Development of Peoples, #23)

“Share everything with your brother. Do not say, “It is private property.” If you share what is everlasting, you should be that much more willing to share things which do not last. “ (The Didache)  WOW!

Christians love one another. They do not overlook the widow, and they save the orphan. The one who has, ministers ungrudgingly to the one who does not have. When they see a stranger, they take him under their own roof and rejoice over him as a true brother, for they do not call themselves brothers according to the flesh but according to the soul.   (Aristides, early 2nd century)   (Do we, really)

How can I make you realize the misery of the poor? How can I make you understand that your wealth comes from their weeping?    (Basil of Caesarea, 330-370 A.D.)

The following is a wonderful way to draw to a close this reflection on the family as a vital part of the family of faith, always open to the Lord’s call to serve.  I think the Lord provided it just for this reflection!

“Pope Francis will bless 174 families belonging to the Neocatechumenal Way, and will leave their lives behind to become missionaries in Asia and Africa.These families will make up 40 new missio ad gentes, small missionary groups that will settle in countries where the Church’s presence is small. They include countries like Mongolia, China and Taiwan.

Each mission will be made up of three families, along with their children, a priest, a seminarian, and two single women. In all, between 30 and 40 people. Pope Francis will also bless an additional 240 families that will take part in ongoing missions.
Overall, the Vatican expects about 10,000 members from the Neocatechumenal Way, including initiators, Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernandez and father Mario Pezzi.

With the latest 40 groups, the number of Neocatechumenate missio ad gentes will rise to 92, spread out across the globe.” (From Rome Report Jan 31, 2014)

So I may live under a certain roof, but that roof is the roof of my “Abba” who is your “Abba” too!  Therefore, joyfully, lovingly, as siblings, one family, we inherit, share and enjoy all that “Abba”, in his love bestows on his family – that is you and me. Jointly, we cherish and care for, all that “Abba” has given to us, for the good of all creation.  This is our ongoing work of love.  It is truly work.

Bless the work of your family Lord!
“Bless the work of our hands, lord!”  (Ps. 90:17)

PS I lived for three years in a Christian community, such as described above, for three years in the poorest part of a parish.  So when I talk of the Family of Faith I mean just that!