Family Become What You Are
John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio calls for the family to “become what you are.” This request stands in contradication to what the world is constantly telling us. In the West, governments and forces in society are demanding that we change the way we understand marriage and family and to construct our vision of family along very different lines which includes divorce, contraceptuion, multi-partners of either gender, intentional and induced childlessness, etc. The world tells us that human nature is plastic; we are our own gods and we can make of ourselves whatever we please.
JPII’s reminder stand out like a a sign of contradiction opposing all the secular confusion. He is taking up the biblical mandate that proclaims that man has a ‘received’ nature, he is created and must discern what that nature is, if he is ever to be happy. The Word tells us that we have a God, not that we are gods. The promises of secular philosophies ultimately are delusional and this is confirmed by the increasing wreckage we see amongst families which buy into this way of thinking.
Familiaris Consortio begins by saying, “The family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what is it, but also its mission, what it can and should do.” We do not create the structure of the family. Our task is to discover how God has created us and to work within His plan. This, and this alone, leads to joy. God does have a plan and purpose for our families and for our marriages. This is not something we are inventing. Ultimately, families are a gift to be received.
St. Paul was always encouraging Christians to be what they were. They had come out of paganism, our of sin, out of destructive lifestyles and had found new life in Christ. In Him, they discovered their true natures as sons of the living God. This is who they truly were. They received this nature in baptism and now they had to live this out day and day. The temptation was always to fall back into their former identity which was alienated from God. But Paul encourages them to forget what went before and to continue to strive towards the prize of eternal life. ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’ (2 Cor 5:17). The force of our fallen natures and this world pulls us away from the truth of who we truly are. Our task as Christians is to remain rooted in Christ, affirming who we are in Him, so that we can gain eternal life.
This process is the same for the identity of the family. We must not allow the world to tell us what the family is. We must not let the forces active in our society inimical to the family deform our understanding of the family in Christ. ‘Families, be what you truly are.’