Family, well we all have one or so…. even Jesus had a family, the Holy Family!
This is how Wikipedia describes a family, “In human context, a family (from Latin: familia) is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity (by recognized birth), affinity (by marriage), or co-residence/shared consumption (see Nurture kinship). Members of the immediate family may include a spouse, parent, brother and sister, and son and daughter. Members of the extended family may include grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew and niece, or sibling-in-law. In most societies the family is the principal institution for the socialization of children. As a unit of socialization the family is the object of analysis for anthropologists and sociologists of the family…”
Are there different ‘types’ of families? Well how about a clan, a tribe, a gang, or the Body of Christ?
An online dictionary states: Family —
by Archbishop Chrysostomos
“The Orthodox Church exalts the family. The Church itself is often characterized by the Fathers in images drawn from the family. In the family, as in the Church, basic values are formed, the soul is shaped and established, and the path of salvation is set forth. The family is that warm place where the leaven of the Faith is nurtured, where we first begin to rise to full life in Christ. It is for this reason that every Bishop, every Priest, every monastic, and all pious laymen remember, in their daily prayers, their mothers and fathers, that their “days may be long on the earth.” It is for this reason that, even after their repose, we remember our fathers and mothers and family members, praying for them fervently and, in our prayers, reaching across the chasm of death to be with them even in the afterlife, in the spiritual world. So special is the family that we remember those in error and heresy and sin even more dearly than those upright and unwavering in the Faith. This is the wonder of the family.”
He concludes, “There could be nothing more pristine than the true Orthodox family. It is, after all, the crucible in which the elements of whole persons are formed. We should exalt such a family and pray that God will make us worthy to lead and to establish such families. At the same time, we must be careful not to accept as a true family that which is false! We must guard against mere social views of the family. And those families wrongly formed and wrongly operating we must call-by the power of love that even they have in their midst-back to the Christian image of the family that we see in the lives of Christ, the Theotokos, the Apostles, and the Martyrs and Saints.”
God’s Word has much to say about the Family, here just a few thoughts:
For Parents —
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Ephesians 6:4 #2
And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
1 Thessalonians 2:7
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
“Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. “Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’
Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants, And our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace;
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.
“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
For Children —
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged , and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.
For God commanded , saying , Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;
Of course we could go on and on, as God’s Word is for His Families, as the Body of Christ:
by St. John (Maximovitch)
“”And He (Christ) is the Head of the body, the church (Col.1:18), “which is His body, the Fulness of Him the that Filleth all in all (Eph. 1:23)
In the Holy Scriptures the Church is repeatedly called the Body of Christ.“Who (Paul) now rejoice in my sufferings for you, … for His Body’s sake, which is the Church (Col. 1:24), the Apostle Paul writes about himself.
Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, says he, are given by Christ “. . .for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12).
At the same time, bread and wine are made into the Body and Blood of Christ during the Divine Liturgy, and the faithful partake thereof. Christ Himself ordained it so, communicating His apostles at the Mystical Supper with the words, “Take, eat; this is My Body; … Drink ye all of it; For this is My Blood of the New Testament” (Mat. 26:26-28).
How is the Body of Christ at the same time both the Church and the Holy Mystery? Are the faithful both members of the Body of Christ, the Church, and also communicants of the Body of Christ in the Holy Mysteries?
In neither instance is this name “Body of Christ” used metaphorically, but rather in the most basic sense. of the word. We believe that the Holy Mysteries which keep the form of bread and wine are the very Body and the very Blood of ChriSt. We likewise believe and confess that Christ is the Son of the Living God, come into the world to save sinners, and become true man, that His flesh, taken from the Virgin Mary, was true human flesh; that body and soul. Christ was a true man, in all respects like man, except sin, and at the same time remaining true God. The Divine nature was neither diminished nor changed in the Son of God in this incarnation, likewise the human nature was not changed at this incarnation, but retained in full all human qualities.
Unchanged and unconfused forever, indivisibly and inseparably Godhead and manhood were united in the One Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Son of God became incarnate to make people partakers of the divine nature (II Peter- 1:4), to free them from sin and death, and to make them immortals. ”
So what are to make of our families these days. Are our families the Body of Christ? Do we belong to His Body?
If we are a family and the Body of Christ, what happens when we do not agree or God forbid, stop being a family? Forgiveness is key, in my personal Christian opinion. In Christ we receive a complete, final, once for all pardon for all of our sins, past, present, and future! We’re prone to say, “What’s the catch?” There’s no such thing as an absolutely free lunch, but there is such a thing as God’s absolutely free pardon from all of our sins. It is totally free to us. In our daily walk, when we sin we need to confess our sins in order to receive what we may call “God’s family forgiveness.”
Our children enter our family through natural birth, and nothing that they do changes their standing as family members. But if they sin against me or me against them, we need to confess that sin and ask forgiveness so that our relationship is not hindered. Even so, like Peter we may fail the Lord badly, but our failures do not remove us from God’s family. We possess our standing in the family through the new birth, which provides total forgiveness. We maintain daily fellowship as God’s children by confessing our sins and asking forgiveness of the Father.
Forgiveness is essential for a happy family and marriage. When couples ask me, “Do you think our marriage and children can survive?” my answer is always, “Yes, providing you are willing to forgive each other.” And this forgiveness should not be just after a major crisis in a family. It should be every single day. In a successful family and marriage, a husband and wife and their children are constantly asking forgiveness of each other. When we don’t do this, wounds don’t get healed. We grow apart from each other. We grow cold towards one another, and we don’t obtain the blessings that God sends down on our families that mutually forgive one another.
Eternal salvation is the whole goal of our earthly life. It is a goal that requires a constant striving, for it is not easy to be a Christian. The influence of our society makes it extremely diffcult. The parish church and the home are the only bastions where God can be praised in spirit and in truth. Our lives, our marriages, our families, and our homes will remain as inferior, poor wine, however, like the wine that was served first at the wedding feast at Cana, if we do not actively seek to be mature men and women, mature husbands and wives, and mature Orthodox Christians, willing to accept the responsibilities of the position in life to which we have been called. And it is only after we work—hard—at preparing ourselves, as individuals, and our families and home in order to receive Christ, that our lives, our marriages, and our homes will become like the good wine which Christ miraculously made from water at that joyous wedding. Amen.
Are we Family? Do we forgive? or do we live as the secular families do and not forgive and break?