BISHOP’S MESSAGE: SEPTEMBER 2020
The year 2020 is being celebrated as the Year of the Family in the Diocese of Jaipur. The celebrations commenced with the inaugural Holy Mass on Sunday, February 2nd, 2020, celebrated at the parish level in all parishes of the diocese. The Prayer for Family is being recited in the churches and in the families every day. A few common programs and seminars on “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love) were envisaged. However with the arrival of corona virus Covid-19 and lockdown enforced, the planned activities could not be organized. Precautions and restrictions still in force, in spite of unlock down-4 nothing much can be foreseen and planned.
The crisis of Corona Virus, Covid 19 was a bolt from the blue; the worst unforeseen tragedy of the century that plunged the entire human race in darkness. Never did we come across such a pandemic, widespread throughout the world, engulfing all countries and sending shock waves to all. It is going to be almost six months and still no respite from the fear and terror the Covid-19 has created. During these months, people have undergone untold misery; locked up in their congested one room shelters, they have suffered hunger and thirst. We come across people suffering from mental disorder and depression. Amidst such sufferings, we also see many positive strokes. One beautiful thing that has emerged powerfully is the bond of family. During these months family life became more and more a joyful experience. Those who hardly spent time with their family members, had sufficient time for sharing, time to pray together, time to have meals together, time to laugh and joke. Thus the family relationship has been strengthened. Children are experiencing the love, affection and closeness of their parents much more than in the past. Many parents are sitting close to their children during online classes and helping the children. In a similar way parents’ care for children, home discipline and supervision has been improved. Perhaps the most enriched area in the family is the bond of marriage. The husband and wife have time for each other for sharing, caring and for intimacy.
At this point, we have a peep into the Post-Synodal Apostolic “Amoris Laetitia”(The Joy of Love) of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, addressed to the Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Consecrated persons, Christian married couples and all the Lay Faithful and published in Rome during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, on 19 March, the solemnity of St. Joseph, in the year 2016. The Exhortation begins with the heart-warming words, “The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the church,” pointing out that the families and the Church are not two institutions but one. In spite of the hardships, pain and sorrow experienced in the families, “the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant.” With a deeper analysis of families in the modern world, it was noted that the churches should continue to study the family situations, with regard to moral, doctrinal, spiritual and pastoral questions. The Exhortation is “an invitation to Christian families to value the gifts of marriage and the family, and to persevere in a love strengthened by the virtues of generosity, commitment, fidelity and patience.”
In these troubled times of our modern age, when religious, moral, social and family values are deteriorating, the Church has a concern for families. Many studies in recent times have proposed that the welfare of the families in crucial and decisive for the future of the world as well as of the Church. The Church realizes that the families in the modern world are going through untold challenges and hardships. So we need to understand the situation and challenges of the family life. A few main factors that affect our family life are – lack of true love between the husband and wife; poverty, unemployment, drunkenness and other evil habits; unfaithfulness and infidelity; lack of compatibility and understanding, the weakening of faith and religious practices, lack of prayer life; lack of dignified and affordable housing, migration and many more. Having identified the challenges, we need to take curative measures at local level, at the level of each family.
The Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of Love, proposes the curative measure: To look at Jesus is the vocation of the family. In every family the Gospel message should resound. This message has to occupy the central place in the family so that it is heard by every member at all times. The infinite love of the Father revealed in Jesus, who gave Himself up for our sake and continues to dwell in our family, be experienced and felt in the most tangible way by the husband and wife, by the parents and children. Jesus who reconciled all things in Himself, restored marriage and the family to their original form (Mt10:1-12). Marriage and family have been redeemed by Christ (Eph 5:21-32) and restored in the image of the Holy Trinity, from which the true love flows.
The A gaze on Jesus will remind us of His public ministry that began with the miracle at the wedding feast of Cana (Jn. 2:1-11). Jesus, moving from family to family curing their illness, comforting them in their sorrow, consoling them in their difficulties, is seen in the narratives such as curing the mother in law of Peter, giving life to the daughter of Jairus, eating in the house of Simon, friendship with Lazarus, Mary Martha, His love for children is remarkable- let the children come to me for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Exhortation, The Joy of Love, proposes the curative measure: To look at Jesus is the vocation of the family. In every family the Gospel message should resound. This message has to occupy the central place in the family so that it is heard by every member at all times. The infinite love of the Father revealed in Jesus, who gave Himself up for our sake and continues to dwell in our family, be experienced and felt in the most tangible way by the husband and wife, by the parents and children. Jesus who reconciled all things in Himself, restored marriage and the family to their original form (Mt10:1-12). Marriage and family have been redeemed by Christ (Eph 5:21-32) and restored in the image of the Holy Trinity, from which the true love flows.
The Holy Family of Nazareth stands as a model for all families. The covenant of love and fidelity lived in the Holy Family inspires every family and helps our families to be modelled after the Holy Family. “Nazareth teaches us the meaning of family life, its loving communion, its simple and austere beauty, its sacred and inviolable character. May it teach how sweet and irreplaceable is its training, how fundamental and incomparable its role in the Social order.” (Paul VI. Address in Nazareth) Marriage, (family) is a gift from the Lord (1Cor 7:7). The New Testament strongly emphasizes the need to safeguard God’s gift, “Let marriage (family) be held in honour among all”. (Heb 13:4)
+ Most Rev. Oswald J. Lewis
Bishop of Jaipur