LET US PRAY FOR ALL PEOPLE TO HAVE A SAFE AND BLESSED NEW YEAR IN GOD’S MERCY.
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Ps 128:1-5; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:22-40
It is a little difficult reflecting on four different themes in a week or two around Christmas. With this Holy Family Sunday it is helpful to go back the creation stories and read the first and second stories that come from different Jewish traditions. In both, God created everything — the earth water, animals, plants and one male human, Adam. The animal kingdom had no suitable “partner,” match for Adam so God operated on him and formed a woman (Eve) from a rib in Adam, more details in the second account. Now they were suitable to help God create more human beings.
The second creation story is a little different. God created the earth and then Adam and the other animals, water and a garden where God put Adam. Yet the animals were not suitable partners. God put Adam to sleep and took out a rib from which he built up, a suitable partner, Eve. “This one, at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.’” (Genesis 2:23) “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” (Genesis 2:24} This was God’s plan from creation and two human, male and female, help God continue to create the human race.
God’s plan is primary
We won’t know how many thousands of years transpired between that first creation and where we are today in the U.S. In heaven we shall get that answer. God’s original plan is still primary. Two of either sex are not able to couple to create new life. And the happiness and success of a couple and their children need to be a life-long commitment. They use their sexuality to create yet then they have about twenty years of responsibility to care for and educate their children to have a productive future. Good healthy parents are the first educators and mentors of their own children. If that has not happened there are ways Jesus can go back to heal past events.
This Feast of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, gives us a great example of how a young man and women join together to make a great impact in our world for good. Creation is one thing but education in a loving environment is another. No “how-to-manual” came with each child did it? Our bodies are one part but the uniqueness of each child must be learned my trial and error.
This all sounds simple but the attacks of satan and his followers are not easy to deal with. The church Jesus founded offers us some physical and much spiritual (God assistance) to help in this process. Jesus made marriage a sacrament, giving the couple a channel of divine power for this process. Catholics have a better success rate than others. One out of three Catholic marriages end in divorce. What could help these statistics improve?
We need more information about God’s plans and faith in how he helps us along our way. Our U.S. Bishops wrote a “lay person’s” understanding of the new Catechism, the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. This is a one-volume answer to most of our questions. Then we need a better pre-wedding preparation time. The first mentors, as children become more aware of the role of their parents, from 2 on, is both of their parents in a permanent lasting union. Two or three sessions of church pre-marriage preparation are not enough to understand Catholic marriage.
After the wedding ceremony and sexual intimacy time calms down, there begins the long process of blending two separate personalities and backgrounds together to create something that “never existed before.” After the wedding we tend to “drop the couple.” Very unfortunate.
If there was divorce and other circumstances, a good background was not in place. Some think a parish process of good but slightly older married couples can help mentor newlyweds and help them make some hard choices about blending two separate lives together. Life is a process of change and adjustments are frequently necessary for good growth. A mentoring couple program in every parish would be a great help to stabilize and save young marriages.
Marriage Encounter is also a very helpful weekend for older married couples. Jesus, please help pastors and parishes see this need and provide for it. Jesus, give us the wisdom to establish programs like this for many thousands of our parishes. This would be a great goal for a New Years resolution.
Have a safe and blessed New Years as I pray for all of you.
- Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2017 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)