On a Firm Foundation: The Definition of “Family”

On a Firm Foundation: The Definition of “Family”

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Mary Quilici Aumack
Executive Director of the Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County

As I write this, I am visiting my sister and her family in Oregon. Our Thanksgiving visit to the Northwest is a multi-decade tradition. It is one of the countless blessings for which I am deeply grateful.

We celebrate the holidays with “blood relations.” We are formed by the teachings and examples of our parents. We share neighborhood memories. We enjoy the occasional inside joke. We protect each other. We rejoice in a new birth, wedding, or graduation. We hold each other in sorrow. We are family.

We have a cherished circle of friends. We cook together. We travel in packs. We share in life’s major events. We are family.

Doug and I participate as members of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception parish. This is our faith community. We worship together. We serve our neighbors. We are stewards of our gifts. We are family.

We live in a wonderful mountain community. We look out for each other. We bring meals when a baby is born or someone suffers illness or injury. We clear trails together. We gather on Friday evenings during summer. We are family.

Pope Francis said that families free us from the sea of loneliness and indifference, so that we can all experience the freedom of being children of God.

It’s easy to embrace groups with whom we have much in common; simple to think of them as “extended family, the family we chose, our faith family, our neighborhood family.”

God also calls us to embrace the human family; to love those who we find most distasteful, to pray for those who hurt or harm. It was with this all encompassing love that Jesus died, leaving us the ineffable gift of HIMSELF in the Eucharist.

Throughout Jesus’s life, through word and example, He taught those around him to love ALL. His “circle” repeatedly included the sinner, the outcast, the stranger.
The teaching of Jesus the Christ is unequivocal. We do not choose who we love. We love ALL. Sometimes those who most deeply need our love, are those whose actions make us wish to withhold our love the most. We must love them regardless.

As we embark on our Advent journey, gratefully awaiting the celebration of the birth of our Savior, we ask God for the grace to open our hearts, to extend our prayers, our outreach, and our love, to all.

Because we are all made in the image and likeness of God; WE ARE FAMILY.