Family as a Precious Gift
The family is a precious gift from God, who in His infinite mercy and wisdom established the Christian family as an extension of Himself, through His divine intervention in the lives of His creatures whom He created in His image and likeness. The Christian family by all intents and purposes is a Community of God’s people, a miniature Church through which God fulfils His four-point agenda for the family: a union of love and common purpose for the married couple; source of parental care and love for the offspring of the marriage; active participation in the development of the larger society; and intrinsic sharing in the life and mission of the Church. All through the years, many families have struggled in their various capacities and God -given grace to live up to this Divine assignment with full or limited success contingent on their scale of priorities. In the rat race to meet up with societal expectations, career/job demands and other competing factors, most of the Christian families failed to rise up to expectations constrained by other mitigating forces. Most times, parents and children rushed out in the mornings heading to different directions, for work, business or school without much physical or spiritual interaction. In some families, it became the norm for weeks on end. In consequence, some parents knew little or nothing about their children’s behavior or their concerns and preoccupations. Family life was sacrificed on the altar of extraneous individual engagements. Alas! Little did we know that the mighty COVID-19 was lurking in the corner to unleash mayhem on mankind and drastically change our world view.
Locked down by COVID-19
In spite of ourselves, helplessly and hopelessly, we were all locked down in our homes for weeks on end and for the first time in a long while many families had the rare privilege of staying together, sharing together, praying and worshipping together in the confines of their homes. They also learnt to bond together, sharing their joys and concerns and to reach out to other families in love. In the Lockdown also, there were moments of tension and disagreement in some homes as they interact with one another in their daily routine. Occasional quarrels, needless fighting and even hot exchange of words played out from time to time in an attempt to vent their anger on something since there was nowhere to run to, to let off steam.
Resolving Conflicts and Sharing
Happily the affected families learnt to resolve their differences amicably and to bear with each other’s whims and caprices while at the same time striving to correct one another in love. It was indeed a period of learning and relearning for the Christian family in a spirited effort to beat the Lockdown. It was also time to discover our common humanity as families cared for others by sharing what they have with the less privileged around them. Even the Government that had long neglected the wellbeing and health care delivery for the masses, was compelled by the ravaging pandemic to take giant strides to provide efficient health care delivery and structures to quell the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic. More importantly, Man and Governments at all levels all over the world, in their helplessness, came to acknowledge and appreciate the supreme power of God over man and daily approached Him for mercy.
What are the key lessons for the Christian family in the light of this development? -Absolute need for every family to create time to stay together from time to time, pray together and listen to one another -Sharing our joys and concerns – Collaborating with one another to make life worthwhile for everyone -Being generous givers and receivers according to our means and disposition -Doing away with materialistic tendencies and preoccupations – what indeed became of our exotic cars, apparels, priceless jewelry and possessions, self – adulation and showmanship? In the wake of the lockdown they proved of less consequence as the battle for life and survival rages on. -There is need to invest in more permanent things that add value to life such as our children’s education, spiritual regeneration, and care for the well being and happiness of those around us -Increased support and sponsorship of Lumen Christi Television Network that brought Christ to our homes daily during the Lockdown and linked us with Vatican and other Liturgical and spiritual engagements during this critical period. -The Catholic Church gained extra ascendancy as the Mass and other Liturgical programmes were beamed to the world and many converts were made by God’s grace. -We all became our brothers’ keepers as we asked after one another and shared in the joys and pains of each other on our various platforms. However, in spite of all these, we pray for a return to our normal life cycle of activities. Many jobs have been lost , many families have lost their bread winners and loved ones; we need to get back to physical contact with our Lord and Master Jesus by receiving him sacramentally in our places of Worship. Our children need to go back to school and life priorities reordered accordingly. Our fervent prayer is that our merciful and benevolent Father will hear our prayers and strike the COVID-19 pandemic from the face of the Earth; He will heal all the afflicted, comfort the sorrowful, increase our faith and trust in Him and finally reclaim the glory of the world to Himself. May our Mother Mary, Help of Christians, Undoer of Knots and Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer, pray for us. May she also pray to her son Jesus for an end to the global Covid-19 pandemic, Amen. Mother of Sorrows Queen of Peace, pray for us. Amen
Mrs. Agatha Onyeneke (Rtd. Federal Deputy Director of Education; Past Archdiocesan President and Vice President, Confraternity of Christian Mothers, Abuja and Lagos respectively; Marriage Counselor and Author.)