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Friday, 23 February 2018


                       'BISI OLUWOLE

This Apostolic Exhortation is purposely an invitation of Christian families to value the gifts of marriage and to protect it in love, to be strengthened by generosity, commitment, fidelity and patience. With a gaze of faith and love, grace and fidelity the Synod contemplated the relationship between human families and Divine Trinity. The document recognised that the human family is entrusted to a man and a woman and their children for its part, mirrors God’s creative work. (No: 29).

The family is thus the place where parents become their children’s first teacher in the faith. To this effect, we shall summarise the document present the catechesis homiletics import of this document and see how it can help the family through homiletic catechesis. The homiletic import of this document will be sub-headed in four ways. First of all, the fathers examined the Challenges on Marriage and families.

The document opens the eyes of man and woman in the family the task and responsibilities of marriage, even back to the Old Testament period (Gen 3:16, To the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you"). Like Mary they, man and woman are to face their family challenges with courage and serenity, in good times and bad, and to keep in their heart the great things which God has done (Lk 2:19).

The problems and challenges on the family arose as a result of the fall of cultural value that perfects family; a typical example of this emergence of global culture of mass communication where father, mother and their children will be on the same dining table disconnected with one another while individual belongs to different worlds by social communication, for example, the father on Whatsap, the mother on facebook and the children on instagram. This leads to individualism which hi-jack the place of communication in marriage. So, the Pope set out to provide concrete solution to the problems and challenges of family and marriage by returning couples to the source of marriage and family which is love: Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." (Gen 2:18) With the effort made in detecting the challenge on families, the Fathers turn the eyes of the married couples into the Love of Marriage. Love is the life-giver of family and Christian marriage. The Fathers reflect on love of God which upholds the Church of God. “The Church is a family of families, constantly enriched by the lives of all those domestic Churches. It is in love that Christ laid down his life for the Church. After the love that unities us to God, conjugal love is the greatest form of friendship”. “It is a union possessing all the traits of a good friendship. Lovers should not see their relationship as merely temporary. Those who marry do not expect their excitement to fade. The couples should celebrate their love as life-long union. The children do not only want their parents to love one another, but also to be faithful and remain together. These and similar signs show that it is in the very nature of conjugal love to be definitive. The lasting union expressed by the marriage vows is more than a formality or a traditional formula; it is rooted in the cultural inclinations of the human person”. (No: 123) In love by virtue of the sacrament of matrimony, every family becomes in effect, a good for the Church”. (No: 87). Love in the family is a perennial source of strength. It is love that enhances the unitive end of marriage, therefore, love takes practical expression in this features: love is patient, love is kind, love bears all things, and love endures all things (1 Cor 13:4-7). (No: 90). A love that is weak or infirm, incapable of accepting marriage as a challenge to be taken up and fought for, reborn, renewed and reinvented until death, cannot sustain a great commitment. It will succumb to the culture of the ephemeral that prevents a constant process of growth. The Synod Fathers stand to correct the wrong notion of some couples that “marriage was solely instituted for the procreation of children” but also that mutual love “might be properly expressed, that it should grow and mature. (No: 125). The love of friendship is called “charity” when it perceives and esteems “great worth” of another person. Loving another person involves the joy of contemplating and appreciating their innate beauty and sacredness, which is greater than one need. This enables one to seek his/her even when they cannot belong to him or her, or when they are no longer physically appealing but intrusive and annoying, for “the love by which one person is pleasing to another depends on his or her giving something. Naturally, love is much more than an outward consent or a contract, yet it is nonetheless true that choosing to give marriage a visible form in society by undertaking certain commitments show how important it is. It manifests the seriousness of each person’s identification with the other and their firm decision to leave adolescent individualism behind and belong to one another. Marriage is a means of expressing that we have truly left the security of the home in which we grew up in order to build other strong ties and to take on a new responsibility for another person. (No: 131) In addition, children, ones born, begin to perceive, along with nourishment and care, the spiritual gift of knowing with certainty that they are loved. This love is shown to them through the gift of their personal name, the sharing of language, looks of love and the brightness of a smile. In this way, they learn that the beauty of human relationships touch our soul, seeks our freedom, accepts the difference of others, recognizes and respects them as a partner in dialogue. Such is love, and it contains a spark of God’s love. (No: 172)

 The document reached a conclusion that; love in the families is a Pastoral task and the fact is that families are basic units of the one family of God, the Church. The contribution of the pastoral care of families should be offered by the parish, which is the family of families, where small communities, ecclesial movements and associations live in harmony (No: 202).

The Synod of the Fathers said that the couples in the families should be helped to perceive the attraction of a complete union that elevates and perfects the social dimension of existence, gives sexuality its deepest meaning and benefits children by offering them the best context for their growth and development (No: 205). For the sake of actualization of love in the family, the Fathers were concerned about the formation of the future priest who also come from families while some come from troubled families, with absent parents and a lack of emotional stability. So there is need for the family to take part in the process of priestly life (No: 203). The Scripture and Tradition give us access to the knowledge of Trinity, which is revealed with the features of a family.

The family is the image of God, who is a communion of persons. At Christ’s baptism, the Father’s voice was heard, calling Jesus his beloved Son, and in this love we can recognise the Holy Spirit (Mk1:10-11).The Fathers recommend that Marriage is a precious sign, for when a man and a woman celebrate the sacrament marriage, God is, as it were, ‘mirrored’ in them; he impresses in them his own features and the indelible character of his love. This love must be extended to the children. The three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit live eternally in perfect unity. This is same applicable to marriage: God makes of the two spouses one single existence. T

he Synod Fathers noted that Jesus, “in speaking of God’s original plan for man and woman, reaffirmed the indissoluble union between them, even stating that it was for your hardness of heart that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so (Mt 19:8).” The indissolubility of marriage: What God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Mt19:6) should be viewed as a yoke imposed on humanity, but as a ‘gift’ granted to those who are joined in marriage (No: 62). Therefore, families encouraged to model their families like that of family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. BIBLIOGRAPHY The Apostolic Exhortation on Love In The Family (Amoris Laetitia: The Joy Of Love) of Pope Francis

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