The readings today speak of familiar things that, upon reflection, are really quite mysterious. The first reading speaks of married life, which in turn is a reflection of Christ and the Church. Married life is chock full of mysteries to be solved and lessons to be learned. Forming the basic family unit requires husbands and wives to separate in some respects from their own families in order to form a new bond, which in turn may produce new life. That new bond requires faith and courage for both participants, as we leave the familiar in order to create something truly new and different, which involves working out our own way of living together and experiencing the mystery of divine love.
I am often drawn to the beauty of the teachings in Familiaris Consortio. I read this passage at my oldest son’s wedding rehearsal dinner, nearly one year ago: “All members of the family, each according to his or her own gift, have the grace and responsibility of building, day by day, the communion of persons making the family a ‘school of deeper humanity’. This happens where there is care and love for the little ones, the sick, the aged: where there is mutual service every day; where there is a sharing of goods, of joys, and of sorrows.” (Para. 21, footnote omitted). This statement rings true to me, as it captures the intergenerational dimensions of sharing and the essential teaching role of example in this “school of deeper humanity” that we call the family. These things are best caught, not taught, and are not really the product of rules so much as of love borne out in daily things.
I am blessed to have experienced this richly in my life. Imperfectly, yes, quite so, but richly still. We can be thankful for these gifts from our families. Familiaris Consortio also states: “Precisely because the love of husband and wife is a unique participation in the mystery of life and of the love of God Himself, the Church knows that she has received the special mission of guarding and protecting the lofty dignity of marriage and the most serious responsibility of the transmission of human life.” (Para. 29) We also have a role in protecting and preserving this sacred gift; let us cherish it and honor it in our lives today.
The gospel message also tells us about something familiar yet mysterious: the kingdom of God. We somehow know that it belongs to us and that we have given ourselves to it, but yet it seems elusive in so many ways. We experience conflicts and disharmony, not only from the world, but within our selves, as we know we often pass it by on the way to other pursuits. The parables of the mustard seed and of the yeast remind us that small things count. Each of us have been drawn to the kingdom of God through myriad small things – whether they be kindnesses, words of encouragement, good examples, or even bad examples, which somehow have all been coordinated to show us something about the divine life. Yes, even our families may be doing this, as wacky and imperfect as they may be. So let us not neglect those small things. Let us pause and give thanks, and remember the power of God’s love that finds us and enriches us in mysterious ways. Let us be grateful for the mystery that is bigger than ourselves and better than we could ever imagine.