The relationship between family and society is commonplace in the history of mankind. The novelty contributed by John Paul II lies in affirming that the most relevant influence is that which the family exerts on society, and not the other way around.
Indeed, the human being is made, and “remade” day by day, in the family.
Life goes from the inside out: in every marriage the whole of humanity is reborn.
The question, then, is not “what should society do – or what should I do in society, if you will – to improve the family and my family”, but “what should I do in my family to improve society as a whole”.
The family should not be on the defensive, avoiding the damage that may be inflicted from the outside. Today we need “kindly aggressive”families. The family, your family, has a lot to propose. It has to propose the only thing that really matters: love.
The question is not what society should do for the family, but what should I, in my family, do to improve society.
Enemy number one
As Chesterton recalled, “the number one enemy of the family is not to be sought outside, in these enormous and overpowering forces that bring down whole societies […]. The enemy of love and of the family is oneself […]. It is the “myself” that in its selfish cowardice shows itself incapable of accepting the prodigious scenario of the home, with its epic, tragic and comic compositional grandeur… that every human being can star in!”
I translate: the number one enemy of my family is me, Tomás Melendo, with my 71 years of age, every time I don’t start the day with the illusion of ending the day much more in love with Lourdes, my wife.
Translate also yourself, with the names of your marriage: yours and your spouse’s. And joyfully assume your responsibility.
My marriage, humanity, my marriage
“The whole great network of human relationships is born and continually regenerates itself from the relationship in which a man and a woman recognize that they are made for each other and decide to unite their lives in a single life project” (John Paul II).
The quality of the whole great network of human relationships, of all of them, depends on the one that you and I establish in our marriage.
This is what John Paul II unequivocally affirms.
Think with me.
- The quality of any human relationship (family, social, friendship, work, business, any!) depends on the real love not from sentimentality or pats on the shoulder, from handshakes or hugs or celebrations and caresses, but from the real and effective commitment in wanting and seeking as effectively as possible the good of the person or persons with whom I relate.
- In other words: the quality of any human relationship, of all human relationships, depends on the real love that vibrates in it.
- And the only “institution” created to bring forth and enhance love is marriage (and all that derives from it).
The quality of all human relationships depends on the one you and I establish in our marriage.
“For this reason,” John Paul II continues, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
Why, why? Because the whole great network of human relationships… all of it!
Every marriage, yours and mine, has a scope, a universal dimension: the health of humanity is at stake in it. The quality of all human relationships depends on what you and I do, minute by minute, day by day, detail by detail, in our marriage.
The education of children, for example, derives directly from conjugal love: to educate children it is enough – enough! – for the spouses to love each other deeply and truly (which is no small thing, far from it).
Conclusion: the greatest thing I can do for humanity is to strive at every moment – right now – to love my spouse more.
And you too.