There is a beautiful moment in the biblical account of the crucifixion when Our Lord says to his mother and to John, the closest of his disciples, that they are now to care for each other – as mother and son. (John 19.26-27). It is a moment in time, and a moment for all time.
The need for a human family’s care and love becomes greater with each passing day. We are living in a time when families are under threat from a myriad of pressures. Some of these pressures are material, others are societal or spiritual. And sadly, there are many people who, for whatever reason, can only dream and wish for the warmth and care of family. Our Lord’s instinctive concern, that his mother and his closest friend should be there for each other, re-echoes down through the centuries to us today. As brothers and sisters in the Lord, we are called to be patient and kind, gentle and generous, welcoming to those in need. We are to ‘be family’ for others, including those who are, or who feel they are, estranged from the family ‘circle’.
This summer, Christians of different traditions will share the joy of thousands who will gather in Dublin from around the world to celebrate the good news of Family as ‘Joy for the World’. The accounts of the Easter Church, that grew from the resurrection of Jesus, remind us that the hospitality and generosity of the human family is a hallmark of Christian belonging. In Acts of the Apostles chapter 16, when Lydia and her household take the Christian faith for themselves, they instinctively offer their home to Saint Paul – as his home too.
In the coming days we will remember the profound expression of self-giving love which is at the heart of the Cross and the Resurrection. Selfless love is also the key to the wonderful Christian vision of what the family is called to be by God. May we be ready to make that vision a living and vibrant reality in a world which more than ever needs Family at its heart.
+Richard, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh
+Eamon, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh