I want to first look at the readings through the lens of three stories found later in the Book of Genesis. They outline some of the issues facing our society, our families, our church and ourselves.
The first part of my notes come from Cardinal Robert Sarah and his World Meeting of Families keynote talk: “Light of the Family in the Midst of a Dark World, A Reflection of the Book of Genesis and Three Images” which was given at the recent World Meeting of Families.
First story: Adam and Eve and Being Ashamed of Our Nakedness
- After eating of the fruit, Adam and Eve turned away and hid from God.
- Jesus is “The Way, The Truth, The Life and The Light.” When you separate yourselves from The Life, you die. But you not only begin to experience a physical death but an ontological death or a death of meaning as well. What does that mean?
- We end up turning away from ourselves. We turn away from an ideal image that God made, an image that we should have of ourself – an image placed in our mind and our heart by God.
- We look in the mirror and, because The Light seems so bright – revealing all of our faults and imperfections – we are ashamed of our “nakedness” or, in other words, the image of ourself that has been marred by Original Sin.
- But rather than admitting that we “are dead” and turning towards a savior who can restore us back to life, we hide like Adam and Eve and run away from the very person who can heal us.
- Rather than turning towards The Life who provides The Light and points me towards pursing goods and materials and activities that would provide a life that would fulfill me,
- I turn away from The Life and towards false idols that slowly destroy and slowly kill me (Adam and Eve “hiding from God”).
- We are built – we’re hard wired – to live simultaneously in love and in relationship. We don’t get love out of the sky – it always comes from another person.
- When we turn away from God, we end up turning away from – and stop loving – ourself.
- When we turn away from God and ourself, we simultaneously will turn away from – and stop accepting love – from others.
- Once we stop accepting love from God and others, we will stop giving love to others as well.
- We don’t see another person as a brother or sister. We see them as a stranger, someone who threatens us. And so we attack them.
- When we turn away from The Light, nothing is shining upon me that can explain who I am and what it means to be a human being (biological, physical, chemical, emotional, psychological).
- When we turn away from The Light, nothing is shining upon me that can explain who I am and what it means to be a human person. (Spirit, conscience, self awareness, dignity).
- When we turn away from The Light, nothing is shining upon me that can explain who I am as a single, unique, one-of-a-kind, never before seen, never to be found again, individual.
- And so I end up having a conversation with myself where I don’t even understand what I am saying. This manifests itself in all of the crazy, unhealthy, neurotic, self-destructive things that I do.
Now, here’s the bridge.
- Each of us desires to discover who we really are.
- What is my mission now?
- What is my eventual destiny?
- What do I need to do to be fulfilled in life?
- We want to improve. We want to discover who we really are. Why?
- Because, if achieved, this brings us meaning which leads to contentment, peace, calm – the summary of which we call “joy.”
- But, because of the effects of sin, the WILL to do this is in me, but the POWER to do it is not.
Now, Jesus is a realist. He meets us just where we are. But Jesus doesn’t allow us to stay there AND He sets an extremely high bar in what he expects from us in life.
What’s the solution: Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life and the light.” “Jesus came to restore creation – to the purity of its original intention” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2336). This can only be done in a relationship with the LIGHT and the LIFE.
- Concerning “The Light” – Jesus provides the “guidance system” along the pilgrimage of life, so that we move in the right direction.
- Concerning “The Life” – Jesus also gives us a power to overcome the chains and effects of sin in our lives that prevent us from attaining fulfillment.
The Family is the place where Light and Life are concretely manifested and actually take place in my life, my biological family and the family of the Church.
The Supreme Court Decision of Obergefell v. Hodges was a wake up call. Do not have ANY misconceptions – that what it means to be family, man, woman, person, human etc.. will be based in Judeo- Christian understanding and anthropology. It’s gone!
We will have to fight for our families in society, in the courts, in the legislature, in the streets, in our places of employment and – in an ironic twist – in our own extended families.
But we will eventually win this fight because what we believe is not only based in truth, it is based in CHRIST, who is “The Truth.”
I close with Pope Francis’ Synod Prayer to The Holy Family, January 10, 2014 Vatican Radio
O God, you never forsake the work of your hands, hear our prayer; send the Spirit of your Son to enlighten the Church as the synodal journey begins, so that contemplating the splendor of true love which shines forth in the Holy Family of Nazareth, she might learn the freedom and obedience to respond with boldness and mercy to the challenges of today’s world. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.