This past weekend was a family weekend with the visit of my brother, from back east, who was welcomed by some beautiful weather and the presence of our mother who now lives with us. While gathered around the table enjoying conversation, and the funny comments from the little ones, I glimpsed the most wonderful of visions. In the midst of our differences, and my mother's struggles to do some of the simplist things, was the most tremendous and sublime beauty that comes from the substantial union of family. Its a vision that will never cease to captivate the heart. Here's where I'd like to ask that question, why? Contained in the inquiry and judgement from this simple question are two elements to unfolding our experience. There are the practical reasons with their rational explanations, and then there is the element that produces the vision where the family, acting as a window, gives a glimpse of the divine. Its the question that identifies the Him behind our experience.
The answer can be found in the natural family, which as a product of natural marriage, is generative and substantial in union. It generates a spark of the divine that draws us towards God. I'm not suggetsing a naive view of the family as if families always mirror some ideal painting of the Holy Family. Be assured that I know well the trials of family. Its not about our actions, despite the role we play in helping make visible God's image. The spark is written into human nature.
One thing I love about family visits is the conversation about the sports and other interests from back home. This time it was about the Yankees. Yea that's right, the evil empire. I'm a fan. My brother had the good fortune of purchasing tickets, a few months ago, to the Yankee's game where Derek Jeter hit his 3,000th hit. He said the energy in Yankees stadium was unbelievable. If you've ever been to Yankee stadium you can understand. Its really quite amazing what a large number of people in New York bonded by concern for something outside themselves can produce. But why describe it when we can relive it:
Amazing! And he's not finished. Jeter has been on a hot streak ever since. There's too much that can be said, pro and con, about the value of this event. I loved it and yet realize that the joy of family and Church are far greater. What can be more generative and bonding than an event rooted in Christ. For evidence of this you only need to look at the experience of World Youth Day. The joy of World Youth Day is a more sublime event and it is difficult to capture on video; but here's a quick look provided by the archdiocese of Baltimore:
I'm sure you've read or seen some of the negative spin put out by the media, who can't seem to grasp the significance of the event. I remember some years back reading Jimmy Buffet describe his view of a visit by John Paul II. He appeared to see only those things that reduce the event to a facade of some sort. This was demonstrated by his comments on such things as the provocatively dressed 16 year old in the crowd who had other things on her mind. Consider reading Fr. Barron's comments on this phenomena in the media. They are excellent in that he points to the inability of some to see what was really present at World Youth Day. We can make what we want of the events, if we so wish, or with a vision open to reality, we can recognize the subtsantial union and joy of the Church and family.