Spouses share love with each other as life companions. In the expression of their love for each other, God may make this love fruitful as they conceive a child. The child is an expression and a personification of their conjugal love. As this child grows in the womb of his mother, the love, tenderness and concern that the couple show each other is of vital importance to the mental health of the child. The parents share love and they share life with the child, before and after birth. In doing so they share Jesus, who is Love and Life personified.
In the year 1980, I attended an international meeting in a Latin American country. I was met at the airport but instead of taking me to the convention centre, I was taken to a hospital where a little boy was dying. There were very few priests available, so I was asked to heal the child. Knowing well that I had no healing power, but believing in the sacred anointing by the Holy Spirit present in me as a priest, I asked the large crowd of relatives present, to pray together in faith for this child to be healed. As we knelt down and prayed together, I was inspired to ask whether the child was baptised. He was not. I believed that baptism gave a child new life, even if I felt awkward about healing.
On meeting the parents, I was again inspired to enquire whether they had a harmonious relationship with each other. They obviously did not. So I asked them to go and be reconciled and then come with me to baptise the boy. They returned after 45 minutes hand in hand. I could see that they had been crying and were now happy. They renewed their marriage vows and I baptised the boy Marco Antonio, in the faith of his parents. He lived. Today I guess he is 24 years old.
As a child grows from infancy to childhood to adolescence to adulthood, the climate conducive to human growth is created by the love of his parents for each other. A child's greatest security is in seeing his parents love one another. Their love and unity is of utmost importance to the child. His intellectual, emotional and physical growth will be nourished by the love of his parents for each other.
Parents are the first and best teachers and role models to their child. Even before he can understand and rationalise, the child instinctively knows if his parents are not united. Their tension, unhappiness and quarrelling will affect him and he will get sick. But if they make up in his presence and strive to understand each other the child will get better.
Parents are chosen and empowered by God to share life and love not only in the act of conceiving children, but also as they grow before and after birth. Disagreements, tensions, hurts and misunderstandings between a husband and wife are to be expected. They are human and in complementing each other may at times appear to be against the other. But both male and female have something to give and to receive from each other. The child is the beneficiary of this exchange, when both contributions are viewed as gifts. God blesses their union and also the children born and reared in this union of hearts and minds.
If both parents have a strong faith in Jesus as their saviour and the Lord of their lives, they will easily share Jesus with their children. Children grow up to see and hear a lot. They are aware of the difficulties their parents face in maintaining a home and facing a variety of obstacles in everyday life. Illness, expenses, unemployment, failures, transfers, frustrations are part of life. But parents who trust in the Lord and turn to him with confidence that he will somehow provide, convey this faith to their children. Jesus becomes a real person to these children. In faith they meet him in their home and believe that he is a faithful friend.
The family that gathers together in the name of Jesus, whether in formal family prayer, or at table as they break bread together, or in sharing a picnic or a game or a sing-song together are truly blessed. As Jesus had table fellowship with families like Martha, Mary and Lazarus, he is the unseen guest at every table and in every home where families gather together unto him.
It is very natural that friends and neighbours will be attracted to visit such a family. They will find love, peace and joy in such families and come there to be refreshed. The children's friends and classmates will be drawn to such a home, where there is love and faith, even though they may have more luxuries in their own homes.
Everyone wants to share life, love and Jesus, even those who do not formally know Christ. In a Christian family that lives the values of the Gospel, there is special attractiveness that is healing and life-giving. Such a family will never be in want. God will always provide them with what they need, for they are the channels of His life and love to their neighbours. Live the words of that beautiful hymn: "Make me a channel of your peace" and allow the Lord to be present in your home