The Family is the Masterpiece of Society
The marriage between a man and a woman is a “unique and unrepeatable sign,” the Holy Father said in his general audience on April 29, 2015.
Pope Francis began by looking at the significance of Jesus performing his first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. Responding to the “maternal concern” of his mother Mary, Jesus “saved the celebration” by turning water in wine. Man and woman, as discussed in the creation accounts in Genesis, are the masterpieces of God’s creation. Continuing this theme into the New Testament, the pope exclaimed, “Thus Jesus teaches us that the masterpiece of society is the family: man and woman who love one another! This is the masterpiece!” Furthermore, Pope Francis says, this “sign… contains a message that is always valid.”
The pope noted that it is hard to talk about marriage today. There is an increase in marital separations, and a decrease in childbearing. He remarked, “The first victims, the most important victims, the victims that suffer most in a separation are the children.” He also pointed out that parents’ separation teaches their children that marriage is not a lasting bond.
Pope Francis urged consideration of why so many young people do not want to marry. “Why do many – also among the baptized – have little trust in marriage and the family? It is important to try to understand, if we want young people to be able to find the right way to follow. Why don’t they have confidence in the family?” The Holy Father rejected economics or women’s equality in society as the reasons for a decrease in marriages.
Men and women still want solid marriages and families, the pope said, but they are afraid of failing or making a mistake and do not trust enough in Christ, “who promises his grace to the conjugal union and to the family.”
To remedy this, the Holy Father said, “The most persuasive testimony of the blessing of Christian marriage is the good life of Christian spouses and of the family.” People need to see the truth through witnesses. The beauty of the Sacrament must be shown as a “source of peace and of goodness for the whole of conjugal and family life.”
In stark contrast to some of the cultural norms at the time of Jesus, Christian marriage did not allow the “habitual repudiation” of wives by their husbands. Even further, “The Christian seed of the radical equality between spouses must bear new fruits today. The testimony of the social dignity of marriage will become persuasive in fact this way, the way of witness that attracts, the way of reciprocity between them, of the complementarity between them.”
The “radical equality” of men and women that the pope spoke about spills over, he said, into the workplace. Christians must “support with determination the right of equal compensation for equal work,” for example. “At the same time,” said the pope, “to recognize the maternity of women and the paternity of men as an always valid richness, for the benefit especially of children.”
Pope Francis finished by saying, “Dear brothers and sisters, we are not afraid to invite Jesus to the marriage feast, to invite him to our home, so that he is with us and watches over the family. And we are not afraid to invite his Mother Mary also! When Christians marry “in the Lord,” they are transformed into an effective sign of the love of God. Christian do not marry only for themselves: they marry in the Lord in favor of the whole community, of the entire society.”
Read the full address here.