By Sharon Perkins
“…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” ~Joshua 24:15b
A few years ago, I had the joyful privilege of witnessing a friend’s marriage to a wonderful young lady. At the point in the liturgy when the unity candle was lit, signifying the union of two families into one, the cantor intoned the words of Joshua from today’s reading — “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
This quotable verse is often displayed in Christian homes as a proclamation of the family’s dedication to God. What is equally remarkable, however, is how Sacred Scripture illustrates God’s consistent dedication to families. From Noah’s small brood of survivors to Abraham’s unlikely throng of descendants, King David’s notable lineage to Peter’s restored mother-in-law, Zechariah’s promised offspring to Cornelius’ entire extended family—the Lord’s promises of salvation to individuals always seem to include their relatives.
How generous of God to include in His wonderful plan of salvation those persons to whom we are closest!
But here’s the catch. In today’s passage from Ephesians (5:21-32, also a favorite at weddings), St. Paul describes the union of Christ and his body, the Church, in terms of the marriage bond of husband and wife. Surely Paul isn’t describing my marriage! Not when we just argued over . . . (insert silly, insignificant topic here).
Our household relationships, however mundane and fraught with self-centeredness, give meaning and concrete substance to the Body of Christ. As such, they become effective instruments of salvation to all its members—even those members who don’t seem inclined to respond to God’s grace!
The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church coined the phrase “domestic church” to describe the Christian household. The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes this very term:
The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called “the domestic church,” a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity (#1666).
In this “community of grace,” it is fitting that the faithful members of each household give of themselves on behalf of those who do not yet believe— just as Christ offered himself freely and sacrificially for his Church. By doing that which is often the most difficult—submitting ourselves freely and lovingly to our spouses, parents, siblings, and children—we can then become the way that Jesus’ “words of eternal life” are brought to fruition for all.
Especially for our families!
Lord, by your kind example and through your gift of grace, show me how to love my family members willingly and sacrificially, especially when it is most difficult.
Call to Action
St. Teresa of Calcutta is known for saying, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Find at least one sacrificial way that you can become an instrument of God’s healing, peace, and unconditional love to someone in your household this week.
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