Bishop Kennedy: Thank God for our messy families

Pope Francis greets family members during an audience with participants in an international congress on protecting children in a digital world, at the Vatican on October 6, 2017. Source: CNS

“No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed.”

These words of Pope Francis remind us that our marriages and families don’t have to be perfect. Your family life is not perfect, but it’s beautiful!  You love each other, not perfectly, but the best you can and you’re trying every day to do even better.

It’s in our family more than anywhere else where we give, receive, and learn kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, bearing with each other, and love. The messiness of our daily family lives provide ample opportunities and almost compel us to practice these virtues every day.

As we grow from infancy to childhood to adolescents to adulthood we receive these virtues from others and so learn to give them as well. We all want to receive these things from others so we have to be able to give them too.  And if we don’t experience and learn them in our families where will we learn them?

Now as well as being beautiful our families are also messy.  You know there’s something not quite right about a family home that’s always spotless. I feel sorry for the children who live there!

PHOTO: Priscilla du Preez

A family home that’s lived in and where the children feel happy and free, easily and quickly gets a bit messy. We tidy it up and then it gets messy again. This is normal.

It’s also normal for our family lives to get a bit messy – there will be the unavoidable problems, challenges, set-backs, and hurts. As soon as we fix them more troubles emerge. It’s a normal part of every family life.

It’s important to realise that God comes to us in our messiness. God, who is Himself a divine family of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and who in the Son became part of a human family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, loves your family and wants to be part of it too.

Jesus said, “Where two or three gather in my name, I am there with them” God wants to draw close to us and wants to draw us close to him. Praying together as a family brings God into our family and our home every evening. What peace and joy this can bring to our beautiful but messy family lives.

God our Father, thank you for the gift of my family. Thank you for its beauty. Thank you for its messiness. Open my eyes to see the many little acts of love that my family members do for me and to see the many opportunities for me to do little acts of love for them. Touch the hearts of those families who do not yet pray to you each day. May they turn to you and find peace. We ask this in the name of Jesus your Son. Amen.

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