by Angela Macnamara Ireland 11.01. 2023
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the MMM Magazine in 1975
It is quite extraordinary to consider that each and every human being me meet in the course of even one day makes some change, however fractional, on our lives. When we consider that even a smile from us contributes to the quality of life of another human being, surely we should think of the enormous responsibility that is ours, minute by minute: the responsibility to love.
In our society approximately one person in 400 is an alcoholic, each of whom influences the lives of about five other people. It is estimated that two and a half times as many children go to bed hungry, and up to seven times as many people live in poverty. No research has been done on the number of people who are lonely. I venture to suggest, that if figures were available, they would topple the other statistics I have mentioned. Loneliness is our greatest problem. Numbers of people are deprived of love, not accepted or understood or listened to, and are, therefore, unable to grow. Perhaps it will be of these lonely people that Christ will be speaking when He says to you and to me: “I was in prison and you did not visit me.”
We all have to grapple with the problem of loneliness in our lives, but it is not our own loneliness that we must seek to assuage, but that of our neighbour. In so doing, we learn the meaning of love. Love is a going out from oneself to enrich the lives of others.
The process of becoming human is intertwined with the art of loving, and this must start within the family. The family is an intimate group of people, learning together the art of enriching the lives of others. How significant is the day a baby smiles for the first time: how exciting when he speaks his first words. These are the beginning of the mystery whereby a unique human being is beginning to tell the world ‘Who he is’. Words are sacred, but more sacred are the influences that stir the soul and give birth to the words. Behind the words each of us speaks today are other words, other people whose influence in our lives has made us what we are today.
Whether we want to or not, we teach our children by everything we do: our reactions to on another and to them and to our neighbours, to all the situations created in the home. We cannot NOT teach our children. Rearing a family, is in a very exciting and real way, cooperating in the creative work of God.
Why then is family life so devalued today? I think it is because we have reversed values, making non-essentials important. We are dishonest in the way we prepare our children for any vocation to love. Motherhood is looked upon as a drudgery. Many people feel that they have no alternative but to opt for material growth and join the ‘rat-race’. Most of our problems, both of parents and children, stem from striving to control our own lives and destinies, instead of allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. We don’t pray, we fear, and we are excessively anxious and joyless. A flourishing Church is dependent on the quality of the individual families that constitute the whole Church. A loving family, in which Christianity is a way of life rather than an optional extra, is not only an asset to their immediate community, but to the country as a whole. We are challenged, as families, to re-Christianize our country, to hear the words of Christ in our own homes: “Look on the fields, they are already white, ripe for the harvest”. No new start, however humble, is too small. Today is not too soon.