The family: beyond individualism

 
Chiara Lubich affirmed that conflict and family crises could be resolved, by following the One who became an individual without relationships for our sake. The family becomes the setting for God’s presence amongst us.

famiglia2…Today the bond of a stable marriage appears almost to be in contradiction to personal freedom. Rather than stressing “relational” values, emphasis is placed on conflicts and differences. On a political level, institutions and governments draft these “matters of fact” into laws that are contrary to the overall wellbeing of the person. As a result, divorce, abortion, euthanasia and biogenetic experiments enter into people’s consciousness as things that are possible and therefore legitimate. The decline in the birth rate, living together before marriage and sexual anarchy become normal and even fashionable.

How many separated and frustrated couples are there? How many children deprived of one or the other parent? How many children with addiction problems? How many people are caught up in the spiral of delinquency and prostitution? How many spouses and children are traumatized by wars? How many elderly people are abandoned? How many babies die of hunger every day?

…We could create a graphic representation of the contemporary family by way of an image: a wounded and desolate mother who clutches the sufferings of humanity to her breast while crying out “Why?” to the heavens.

…Yet, if we believe that behind the events of our lives, there is God with his love. If we are strengthened by this faith and recognize, in our own or others big and small daily sufferings, a shadow of the pain suffered by the crucified and forsaken Christ and our sharing in the suffering that redeemed the world, we can find meaning in the most absurd situations and put them in perspective.

In the face of whatever suffering may come our way, big or small, and in the face of contradictions and problems that have no solutions, let’s try to enter within ourselves and look head on at the absurdity, injustice, innocent suffering, humiliation, alienation or desperation before us. It is there that we will recognize one of the many countenances of the “Man of Sorrows.” It is our meeting with him, the “divine person” who became an individual without relationships. He is the God of contemporary humanity, who transforms nothingness into being, suffering into love. Our “yes” to him and our readiness to love him and welcome him into our lives will enable us to go beyond our individualistic attitudes and turn us into new men and women who can heal and give new life in the most desperate situations through love.

…These are not dreams. They are the everyday experiences of many families who, helped by the forsakenness of the God-Man, have transformed their tide of pain into new life. Sometimes, indeed often – the divisions are resolved and families reunited. At times, they are not: externally the situations may stay as they were, but the pain is illuminated, the anguish eased and the fracture overcome. At times, the physical or spiritual suffering lingers on but it acquires meaning when we unite our “passion” to the passion of Christ who continues to redeem and save the family and all of humanity. The burden becomes lighter. Therefore, the family can attempt to reacquire its original beauty according to its creator’s design by drawing from the source of love that Christ brought on earth.

I believe that from that wellspring married couples and families can quench their thirst for authenticity, for continuous and limitless communion, and for values that are transcendent, lasting and always new. God himself can be present in their homes and share his life with them. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name (= in my love), I am there among them” (Mt18:20). Families are being offered an incredible opportunity: to be the setting for God’s presence”.  (Taken from Chiara Lubich’s talk “The family is the future” given in Lucerne, Switzerland on 16th May 1999).

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