As we celebrate Family Day weekend, we reflect on the role of marriage in our life. How does marriage affect you? Why does marriage matter to you and me? In a very real way, family is rooted in marriage which is the relationship that brings about children who usually have to depend on the unique care and concern of a father and a mother. Marriage has benefits which cannot be replicated by any other relationship. Marriage affects our social and public life, especially in terms of procreation and the care and education of children.
Marriage matters because God has ordained it as part of the design of creation and redemption. More than ever, we have to assert the importance and the sacredness of the institution of marriage.
In a controversial conference, the United Nations has come up with a new definition of the family, which is not necessarily composed of a father, mother and children. Children of divorced parent or adopted children are fitted into a new network of relationships. Consanguinity, or blood relationship, is no longer a common factor in family relationships.
The working principle of the Christian family is based on the higher values of love and service, as enumerated in the Beatitudes in today’s gospel. It hinges on our personal relationship with our God who is at the center of our lives. The solid basis of the marital relationship is not the love of husband and wife for each other but their own respective relationship with their God. In many Church documents, the family has been described as the domestic Church or the microcosm Church. In light of the contemporary changes in the family structure, it is important to emphasize this definition of the family as a community, as a group of believers committed to Christ Who declared “Where two or three (or more) are gathered in My name, I am in their midst”. (Matt 18.20)
I quote the Bishops of Northern Canada in a joint letter, expressing deep concern for family violence, particularly against women: “Let us pray that our families and communities will be known by how much each member loves, respects and supports the others.”