I have four families. If you go by the current trend in Philippine politics it seems to be in vogue to admit the multiplicity of responsibilities. One former government official went even as far as being interviewed on television and openly admitting that he has eighty children thereabouts and that they all get along together wives, mothers and children (an incredible mystery!) because of their great love for him as father. But no, this is not about irresponsible behavior, but rather of order and awareness.
My first family is my family of origin, of biological origin. This includes my parents, my blood brothers and sisters. I would also go as far as saying that it includes my clan, my other blood relatives. Cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, grandchildren (oops, age is showing, but these are from my older brothers and sisters) make such a formidable list.
My second family is what I call my family of choice, a family based on a decision to love in a covenant of marriage. My wife and two kids. This too is a formidable list (not because it may include my mother-in-law) because of the spiritual responsibility attached to it.
My third family is my BCBP family and this is an awesome family! This, too, is a family based on a decision to love and a covenant with God the Father himself through the Catholic Church. This family includes my chapter’s co-members and their children and its leaders, all the Metro-Manila chapters/outreaches, all the provincial chapters and outreaches and the National leaders and Spiritual Director.
Celebrations with our Action Group and Chapter are pure joy from beginning to end – welcome greetings, to the jokes and endless laughter, the good food and the fellowship, all a seemingly complete picture of a solidly happy family in God. But of course, this picture is not complete. What is unseen is how we outdo each other as Christ to one another. How much loving support and care is given. How encouragement, prayers, concern and even simple presence make all of us walk better in the face of severe trials and testing. How commitment, service and holiness mold us together in a united effort to please the Lord of Lords. How in humility and meekness we admit to each other our faults, weaknesses and sinfulness knowing fully well that we are dependent only on God’s grace to be saved everyday. It is knowing we are Christ’s flame for each other that will enkindle those whose flames are threateningly being blown out by the winds of temptation, sin, discouragement and desolation. This is the invisible essencve of family. That caring, constant exchange of selves, in an unconditional love relationship, a covenant love. This is what makes it pure joy and an even compelling reason to share it with others through evangelization.
My fourth family is the Catholic Church. This too I am bound to in a covenant relationship through Jesus Christ as its head. This includes the complete hierarchy and body, from the Pope, the cardinals, bishops down to my parish priest, all religious and laity of every nation and race. All of God’s family and all to whom Jesus sends us by his commissioning. All of whom can be touched, aided and loved by the power of my fervent personal prayers.
Now you may ask why this sudden inventory of families? Fr. Ramon Bautista S.J. in one of our retreats calls this “God’s Little Acre.” For those who have measured our Savior’s footsteps all over the Holy Land or through any Bible Atlas or maps, one can see that he walked through relatively few hundred miles in the course of his ministry as compared to St. Paul’s travels. Now comes the question: were the people whom Jesus encountered in “God’s Little Acre” a little less hungry, a little less lonely, a little less sad, etc., because Jesus had at one time made himself available to them? Definitely! Because in his small acre, the little acre that God had placed him in, he produced the core of Christianity that exploded into the greatest faith on Earth.
And this is our calling in our lay vocation. To measure out what we consider ‘God’s Little Acre’ for ourselves where we walk as God’s workers in his vineyard. And to see ourselves asking at the end: did we make a difference? Were people in that vineyard, in our little acre or hectare where God placed us, made a little better because we made Christ available to them through us?
Where do we walk? Who are the people that we walk by? Do they know the Lord? I walk through these four families of mine and I shudder because I know their lives are still not made better by my presentation of Christ to them. Sometimes I glance at my eldest son during Sunday mass and I catch his empty stare at the altar. Then I wonder have I given enough of Christ to him that can be considered a family legacy. What if I’m suddenly not around overnight like the thousands who perished in recent earthquakes, floods, calamities or even in simple accidents? Will he and my other family members walk confidently towards God’s kingdom? And if we walk in the corridors of the powerful and the mighty, the responsibility is greater, remember “to whom much is given, much is expected.”
Another reason for this family inventory is that the family as an institution is under attack from the dark, evil forces. This is so because precisely of all institutions, family bears the very essence of who God is, THE COVENANT, an Eternal Family in constant motion of total unconditional self emanating from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the Father.
The dark forces come in different forms. Terror comes silently in the socially ‘acceptable’ forms of state-mandated population control, legalized divorce and homosexual marriages, all of which are family-directed destruction. More and more marriages end in divorce; about 90% of all marriages in the USA today end up broken in some way. And a direct correlation between divorce and the increase of crime rate has been established emanating mainly from the victims of divorce, the children.
Then we hear of homosexual marriages that demean the very pillars of the institution of family: procreation with God, fatherhood, motherhood, sonship and family life. The best weapon against this darkness is our faith in God and his covenant with us, plus our own effort to preserve the essence of family which we have come to know through our BCBP community, our BCBP family.
LET US GIVE OUR ALL TO SAVE OUR FAMILIES! LET US PUT OUR FAITH IN JESUS AGAINST WHOM NO DARK FORCE CAN STAND UP TO! LET US MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR GOD!
At the end of every day after we have walked our daily world of work and family, let us boldly ask ourselves: “Was God’s little acre made a little better by my making Christ available to them today? Have I done my share of saving the family today?” And if we can answer these questions positively we will know in our heart of hearts that we are walking in His light and toward His kingdom.
Reprinted and edited from the KAPATIRAN, Sept-Oct 1999, pp 2-3.