September 26.  For many Westerners the complexities of African extended family ties and the roles they play are a real mystery.  Why does an uncle get involved in wedding arrangements or why is a cousin called a sister or brother? Why does the firstborn remain responsible for the extended family?   A nuclear family is the image many people have nowadays of what a family is. But that is not even historically correct anywhere.  Marriage and family  relationships have changed and are still changing in society. The Church is challenged by these changes too.  Pope Francis’ THE JOY OF LOVE, (Amoris Laetitia) makes many references to different types of family structures. Apart from marriage, other forms e.g. cohabiting, single-parent, same-sex unions and child-headed units exist as well as remarried and divorced families. All are still part of the Church and live God’s plan, possibly in imperfect situations, as best they can. The image of the Church as the Family of God also implies a different kind of belonging where there is no relationship of blood or marriage but ideally modelled on the characteristics of family. And going beyond the human family the ideal of the World as a Family of Families is something we have yet to get used to.   

Reflect, share, act. Scripture:   Scripture: Jesus was told, your mother and your brethren are standing outside, desiring to see you. But he said to them, my mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it.  Luke 8:19-21.   Pope Francis:  Everything is interconnected. Just as the different aspects of the planet -physical, chemical and biological are interrelated so too living species are part of a network which we will never fully explore and understand.   LS 138.  In addition to the small circle of the couple and their children there is the larger family.   The love between husband and wife and in a derivative and broader way the love between members of the same (extended) family is given life and sustenance by an unceasing inner dynamism and is the foundation and soul of the community of marriage and the family. JPII in AL 196.  Eco-tip and prayer:  Decide and discuss integral ecology and the family and how to become an eco-friendly, family-friendly society.  Pray the Glory Be …..  for a lasting eco-friendly focus in all families, i.e. our World, a Family of Families.