The Example of Holy Families

When I think about the multitude of saints in our Church, I normally call to mind religious brothers and sisters, priest, and bishops. We can easily think of at least one saint who was a priest or religious. Our Church in Smoke Bend is named after a religious St. Francis of Assisi. What about saints who were married? Saints who raised families? Do we have them? Yes, we do, and there are some powerful witnesses to us. First, you may have heard of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, but did you know that her parents are called saints in our Church. Saints Louis and Zelie Martin are saints of the Church and an inspiration to us. Both of them considered religious life and tried to join a religious order. Louis didn’t know enough Latin yet, and when Zelie went to join a religious order, the mother superior felt the spirit move her to tell her “I don’t believe you have a vocation to the religious life.”  Eventually, the met each other and had nine children; four died early in life, and the rest became religious sisters. One of which we know as St. Therese of Lisieux, secondly they may have another daughter who will be a saint.

Another example is Saint Gianna Molla, whom went to the Lord in 1961 and became a saint in 2004! While pregnant for her fourth child doctors found uterine cancer, they gave her some options, abort the baby, completely remove the uterus which would end the life of the baby, or deliver the child than remove the tumor. She decided to have the child and told the doctors if it comes down to my child and, I choose the child. The pregnancy would take her life but not her child’s, and only eight years ago her husband too went to meet the Lord. Three of the children are still living and having an impact on the world.

Our readings this weekend speak to us about our marriage and the union that two spouses have. Jesus reminds his followers of Genesis and the creation of Adam and Eve. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh. Then Jesus tells his followers. “Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Jesus has given the Church a great mystery, a bond that will not be broken by any man.

When we think about this bond, we can think about the reason God gave for creating Eve. God says “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.” The bond of matrimony doesn’t mean that the women is there to help the man, rather husband and wife work together. Listen to what Adam says after Eve is created. “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” He sees in Eve something of himself and united together they continue together, helping each other out and building each other up. The same is true for all of us who have been married or are considering marriage down the line. There is even some truth in this in the priesthood and religious life. While on earth we will not be bound to anyone like husband and wife, priests and religious dedicate their entire lives to increasing the union with God in their own lives and more importantly in the lives of others. All of us are called to help each other out and help each other in the journey towards salvation. However, those of you who are married have a unique role in assisting each-other out towards salvation.

St. Paul speaks again about this union, he speaks of the love that Man should have for his wife.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church.

The words of the Gospel can be difficult for us to hear. We know all too well that sometimes the love God calls husband and wife to have is not always there, and sometimes separation and divorce happens. However, don’t be discouraged in the face of these hardships. First, pray for holy families. We face many problems in our world today, and I truly believe through the example of holy families our society can indeed change. Think of the excellent witness of St. Louis and Zeli and St. Gianna. These are only two of many married saints who we can look to and strive to be more like in our lives.

We don’t have to only look at the holiness of saints, many of which lived before our time. We can find holiness in our next-door neighbors, even in your own homes and families. Pope Francis earlier this year spoke about this holiness that reflects God’s presence in our next door neighbors.

He said,

“I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbors, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence.”

As we seek to grow closer to God in our own journey’s of faith, look for those great examples of holiness in our lives. We can develop a devotion to a saint whom we feel close to or is an inspiration. We can look to and uphold the example of those in our midst’s who are living holy and good lives. We too can be that example to others! I think of my own life and the influence my parents had on me. My parent’s helped out college students who may have need a temporary place to live, or have just had someone able to help them out. They taught me to go the extra mile to help those who need it! Parents you can be a witness to your children, by the way, you live your faith, the way you love them even if they sometimes may not show it back. I hope that we can once again uphold the beauty of marriage that God has given us. Not only does this bond bring to people together, with God’s grace it can be a light to the world for all to see!

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