As Thanksgiving approaches , I am reminded how my family is shrinking as time moves on. I have very little left of the traditional family structure, given the reality that so many have “passed on” into a new life AND a new family. In the Kingdom, Jesus has created or IS creating a new family not bound by biology. Yes, in this life , marriage and family are the essential building blocks of the human family. We must have strong marriages and families as a foundation to entering a much larger family, one that will come into its own in the next life : the life of Resurrection.
Jesus is asked a simple question by the Sadduccees, those who did not believe in the Resurrection : if a woman marries a man with six other brothers and he dies, one of the brothers will take her into marriage, then he will die and another brother will marry her and he will die. This succession of marriages to the one woman continues until ALL seven have married her then she , herself, dies. In the Resurrection, in the next life, whose wife will she be?
In the Resurrection of the dead, in the next life , that problem is moot…has no basis whatsoever because in the life to come, relationships will NOT be defined as they are in this life. In the Resurrection, human beings will relate in a completely new and different way, since we will form ONE Family living together with God as our “spouse.” All the questions of who can marry and what happens after divorce will be null and void. Alleluia!!!!
While walking on the camino, I got a brief taste of this new “family.” People of all walks of life: married and single; religious or not; young , middle and seasoned in age; multiple languages and cultures; varieties of lifestyles. And something happened to all these different ways of living and different expressions of loving: the differences didn’t matter!!! We were on this pilgrimage TOGETHER and the love we had for each other transcended our differences. It felt like a family, if only for five weeks.
In this life, within our committed relationships and families, we have to begin to make the reality that WILL occur at the end of time and in the Resurrection a reality that finds expression right NOW in THIS life.
A friend of mine belongs to a parish in which Thanksgiving dinner occurs in the parish center with countless “families”. All are involved and invited. This is not a dinner focused on the homeless but on all who want to come together to become a much larger family. I know that something may be lost in giving up an intimate dinner with the usual family and friends and in the comfort of a home. But think what will be gained… think about those who are not homeless but have nowhere to go…think about how the homeless will feel when traditional families choose to be with them.
It is a change in the traditional way of celebrating Thanksgiving. What a welcome change!!! That parish is creating a living parable of Jesus and making “family” a much more beautiful word.
I’ve got work to do….
Buen camino. Padre