The family was given to us by God as the fundamental building block of society (“As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.” — Pope St. John Paul II). God designed the family to be patterned after Himself, and as such, the family itself provides answers to some of life’s most important questions:
Can We Understand the Trinity?
The trinity is the first and eternal family. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all sharing perfect and infinite love one for another. God created us to form families because our families are a picture of Him, and one of the best (if not the best) pictures we have. We children of God understandably have difficulty grasping the trinity. When we look to the family, things become a bit clearer.
When many of us hear the phrase “the word of God”, we think about the Bible. While this is certainly true, it is really only a partial truth. The word of God is not only “living and active” [Heb 4:12], He has a name, and that name is Jesus. Jesus is literally the word (logos) of God [Jn 1:1-4]. What does this mean? When a father raises a son, he teaches his son how life must be lived, what is right, and what is wrong. He teaches him to love. The son becomes the embodiment of his father’s teachings, or words. Jesus is the embodiment of the Father’s words. He is the true logos.
The love between the Father and the Son is so real, that we have to give that love a name. We call that love the Holy Spirit (or, as the Nicene Creed has it, the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified”). Is this hard to understand? No. The love between a husband and wife can become so real, that nine months later you have to give that love a name. The new child is the love that proceeds from the husband and the wife.
The trinity is the ultimate and eternal family. The love the eternal family shares is so real, that all of creation springs from it. True love is like that. It is always procreative and generative. New life will always spring from it. The trinity is the model and measure of each of our families. May we strive to make our families more and more like the trinity.
Why Does Jesus Feel so Far Away?
I have a three year old daughter – she’s cuter than words can express, and has me all wrapped around her little finger. She cares little for toys or things, and will not even be long distracted by television. She desires only the time and attention of either my wife or I. In fact, due to her very unfortunate background, she suffers from separation anxiety. Neither of us can leave the house without her wailing “I just want youuuuu!”.
Jesus has always been very close to you, but “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” [Mt 18:3]. Think about what it is that you truly desire. What is it that is distracting you from that? Stop playing with your toys, stop watching television, and rather spend your time seeking Jesus. Pray, think about Him, and read His word. Ask and it will be given you, seek, and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened to you [Mt 7:7]. When you, like my little three year old, can say to Jesus, “I just want you!” – it is then that you will truly find him.
Why am I so Stressed Out? Where is God’s Peace?
My five year old daughter loves to play, but she doesn’t care much about toys. She’ll use them, but she won’t be at all upset without them. There are things in her life that make her sad, but she spends no time at all worrying or fretting about them, she deals with things as they come. She is by far the happiest of my children, and this is no coincidence. Stress comes from worrying about the things of this world, so don’t do it. Trust God. Read [Mt 6:25-33].
Why are Hearts so Hard?
In my large family, there is no shortage of fights. Fights hurt people, and hurt people are angry people. Angry people want to lash out at others, especially those who have hurt them, but really anyone will do. When these things happen, I must jump in and restrain everyone involved. I must stop the fight, and I must prevent vengeance from being sought. An angry person denied often becomes angrier still. This sets up a power struggle between my child and I. As the struggle drags on, the heart of my child becomes increasingly hard. In the end, I will win this power struggle, as I must. The real question is, what will be the state of my child’s heart at the end of it? So it is with our heavenly Father and we, His children. He will win the power struggle, as He must. The real question is, what will be the state of our hearts at the end of it?
How Do I Love God?
Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” [Mt 22:37], this is the first and greatest commandment. But how do we do this? What does it mean to love God? The answer is in the very next verse, in the second commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” [Mt 22:39]. Loving your neighbor is how you love God.
When my kids fight, I am grieved, and not just because I have to put up with it. I love my children, and fighting hurts them and makes them miserable and wretched. When my kids fight, it changes their souls, in a way that makes future fighting more likely. When my children are selfish, it hurts me, because I love the poor child that doesn’t have the toy, and I want him or her to be happy too. I get angry when the child who has all the toys leaves the other in the corner crying, with no toys at all.
Read [1 Jn 4:20]. If you think that you love God, but do not love your brother or sister, you are nothing other than a liar.
How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?
The simplest answer is: He doesn’t. Read the story of the prodigal son [Lk 15:11-32]. Many think that the main character in this story is the son who goes astray, but that is not correct. This story has always been about the Father. Sons and daughters will always run away. Sometimes they come back, sometimes they do not. In all cases, the loving Father is always waiting, watching, and hoping (against hope) that His lost children will return. He loves them and He misses them. As much as He loves them, however, there comes a time when their decision to run away must become final.
Why is There So Much Suffering?
From all eternity, God has been the perfect and eternal family. The love shared between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is both timeless and infinite. So great was God’s love for us, that He sent His only Son into the world, to die for us. He knew that we would be suspicious of Him, thinking that He would beat our backs for the sins we’ve committed, so He gave us His own back, and we beat Him. He knew that we would be suspicious of Him, that He would just want to rule over us like a mighty king, so He gave us His brow, and we plunged a crown of Judean thorns into it. He knew that some would believe that He’d just want to kill us, so He let us kill Him. He knew we were alienated from God, and so, in an act of love above all others, He took our alienation, and inserted it into the very heart of God (Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani – My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?), the perfect and eternal family. Why? Why did He do all this? Because He loves us? Yes, and more. Jesus did all of this for us, and came all this way, to ask us a question. That question is: will you marry me?
I have a one year old son, and I love him to death. He crawls around and gets into all manner of trouble. All day long, we have to chase the little stinker around just to keep him hurting himself. Do you know what we call a person who never really experiences the consequences of his actions? We call that person a one year old. We all commit wicked deeds, and by those deeds we hurt ourselves and we hurt those around us. These wicked deeds are why there is suffering. Why doesn’t God jump in to save the day? Because He doesn’t want us to be a bunch of one year olds, that’s why. He wants us to grow up. Why does He want us to grow up? So He can ask us to marry Him. Is that so bad?
Why Does God Let People Hurt Each Other?
So we will learn to be brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters hurt each other, forgive each other, and then they help each other heal. Think about it. Would your relationship with your brother or sister be as strong as it is if it were always antiseptic? We need to travel this road called life together, if we are ever going to be true brothers and sisters. This will mean getting hurt, but it will make our love strong.
Why Doesn’t God Do Anything for Those Who Are Suffering?
He did. He made you. So get to work comforting them.