The family is the basic unit of society and the Church. It is in the family that children first learn how to communicate and relate. It is in the family that they learn what is good and what is bad. It is in the family that children learn what love is and how to love. It is in the family that they first learn to forgive and to pray. It is in the family that as children, we first learn about God and Jesus and Our Lady and the saints. It is in the family that we learn to value ourselves and understand the value in everything else as we pick them up from what is said and unsaid by our parents. Our families form us for life, as we grow into the future. Indeed, the future of humanity depends on the family, because it is through a family that we all come. As a people guided by the word of God in the bible and tradition that is confirmed by the Scriptures, we see that the one family that stands out for us as a perfect example of a good and holy family is the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Hence, like the Holy Family, our families must be built on the foundation of faith in God, readiness to obey His will and follow wherever His will leads us. Unconditional love must be the rule and guide in relationships within the family. Each of our families must also be that in which every family member feels a sense of belonging, each member must be made to feel that he/she matters.
In each family there must be mutual respect, such that the feelings, desires, needs and preferences of each member is taken into consideration in making decisions. There must be honesty in the relationships within each family such that each person is to be open, open to correction and ready to accept them in love. Each family is called upon to allow forgiveness to be part of the fabric that weaves the members together. Never hold a grudge but be ready to forgive whenever each member of the family goes wrong. Readiness to communicate feelings and fears as well being able to talk through issues make the family to be bonded. Members of the different families must be willing to give to one another with generosity, never first counting what is there for them to gain. Each member of our families must be responsible for the other, each one doing something to add to the complete welfare of everyone else. Father, mother and children must be ready to play roles that are peculiar to them or are expected of them. In all of these, love one another.
• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins is the Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.
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