Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Flight to Egypt

Herod was a builder of infrastructure and the ruins in Caesarea Philippi and the Wailing wall in Jerusalem are evidences of his reign. Thus, he was called Herod the Great. But even in his greatness, he feared the news of a new born King because he knew fully well that his kingship was not legitimate but one which he bought from the Roman Emperor by his money and influence. Thus, he ordered the slaughter of all boys 2 years below in Bethlehem and its environs in order to kill this new born King. “Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him,” the angel warned Joseph in a dream. And so, in the middle of the night, the holy family departed for Egypt and stayed there until they received the news about the death of Herod. Thereby, they returned to Israel and lived in Nazareth.

Like the holy family, the Christian family continues to be threatened by many external forces. Like Herod, governments have put the power of the law behind the many destructive threats against the family. Laws legalizing divorce, abortion, and euthanasia; laws redefining the family and accepting the legitimacy of homosexual marriages; laws funding the distribution of artificial contraception; laws that mandate sex education classes in schools – all these are destructive forces which threaten the family. Condoms are easily procured from non government agencies, so why do we need the power of the law to distribute them – the Holy Father once asked. The enemies of the family possess wealth and power. How can the family defend itself?

The answer is found in today’s reading. St. Joseph protected his family by listening to the Word of God revealed by the angel. The Holy Father teaches: “Fidelity to God’s word leads us to point out that nowadays this institution (of the family) is in many ways under attack from the current mentality. In the face of widespread confusion in the sphere of affectivity, and the rise of ways of thinking which trivialize the human body and sexual differentiation, the word of God affirms the original goodness of the human being, created as man and woman and called to a love which is faithful, reciprocal and fruitful.

“The great mystery of marriage is the source of the essential responsibility of parents towards their children. Part of authentic parenthood is to pass on and bear witness to the meaning of life in Christ; through their fidelity and the unity of family life, the spouses are the first to proclaim God’s word to their children…Spouses should also remember that ‘the Word of God is a precious support amid the difficulties which arise in marriage and in family life.’” (Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, 30 September 2010, 85.)

The only way to protect the family is by proclaiming to it the word of God, “With the proclamation of the word of God, the Church reveals to Christian families their true identity, what it is and what it must be in accordance with God’s plan.” (Ibid.) Thus, our drive must be to fortify the family by helping it listen to the word of God. “The ecclesial community must support and assist them (the family) in fostering family prayer, attentive hearing of the word of God, and knowledge of the bible.” The Holy Father urged “that every household have its Bible, to be kept in a worthy place, and used for reading and prayer.” (Ibid.) It is strange that all houses (even the poorest shanties) have television sets but many of them do not have a single copy of the bible. How can we raise our children in loving the word of God if not even a single copy of the bible can be found at home?

Yes, we may lobby in congress to block the passage of bills that threaten the family but we must not neglect to fortify the family from within. And this can be done only by enabling our families to listen to God’s word. “Let the word of God dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another.”

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