St. John Paul II in his 1994 Letter to Families said, “the history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family.” In other words, the family is at the center of the struggle between good and evil, between life and death, between love and all that is opposed to love (Tweet this). All of salvation history can be understood as a family story, from the individual family to the Church, to the very Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The emphasis on family in salvation history begins with the Trinity itself. St. John Paul II has stated: “God in His deepest mystery is not a solitude, but a family, since He has in Himself fatherhood, sonship, and the essence of the family, which is love.”
Dr. Scott Hahn, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Franciscan University of Steubenville, points out that:The work of salvation is the work of all three Persons of the Holy Trinity. Our redemption thus assumes Trinitarian and family proportions. The first Person of the Trinity is now our Father (Jn 20:17), because of the saving work of the Son, who is ‘the firstborn among many brethren’ (Rom 8:29), and so the Holy Spirit is ‘the Spirit of sonship,’ who causes us to cry ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom 8:15).
Hahn points out that what makes Christianity unique and definitive is that the gospel is God sharing his family life and love with mankind. As a Father, God’s intent is to raise mature sons and daughters, and He does this by drawing us into His family activity as co-workers (1 Cor. 3:9). There are many examples of the people of God co-working with God in His saving plan; Andrew brought his brother Peter to the Lord, a young boy in John’s Gospel contributed his five barley loaves and two fish to what would become the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:9). The Virgin Mary is a co-worker with God in the redemption of mankind within God’s family paradigm. She is acknowledged and honored as being the Mother of God and of the Redeemer which means she is “clearly the mother of the members of Christ since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 963).
Familial Covenant of Love
As God entered human history through the family, He continues to do so by making parents co-workers with Christ. The family originates in a marital communion described by the Second Vatican Council as a ‘covenant’, man and woman giving themselves totally to each other and accepting each other. William Kilpatrick, author of Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong, describes how marriage “is a shared story: the partners grow in love partly on the basis of shared memories, and partly on the conviction that they are on a journey together. In having children, they bring them into the story and introduce them to the characters – aunts, uncles, and grandparents – who are already a part of it.”
In his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, St. John Paul II says it is in the family that numerous interpersonal relationships are established – “married life, fatherhood and motherhood, filiation and fraternity – through which each human person is introduced into the ‘human family’ and into the ‘family of God,’ which is the Church.”
Truly, the family is the theatre on which the children see salvation history continue, and it is their primary point of entry into the divine drama. St. John Paul II declares, “in coming into the world man begins, in the family, his ‘great adventure,’ the adventure of human life.” In light of the influence a family has it should not come as a surprise that today Satan would target the family by trying to redefine and divide it.
This post is an excerpt from His Story is Your Story by Jeff Cavins, a chapter in Catholic for a Reason: Scripture and the Mystery of the Family of God, by Scott Hahn.
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