Amoris Laetitia #’s 321-325
Christian couples are, for each other, for their children and for their relatives, cooperators of grace and witnesses of the faith. God calls them to bestow life and to care for life. For this reason the family has always been the nearest “hospital.” So let us care for one another, guide and encourage one another, and experience this as a part of our family spirituality. Life as a couple is a daily sharing in God’s creative work, and each person is for the other a constant challenge from the Holy Spirit. God’s love is proclaimed through the living and concrete word whereby a man and the woman express their conjugal love. The two are thus mutual reflections of that divine love which comforts with a word, a look, a helping hand, a caress, an embrace. For this reason to want to form a family is to resolve to be a part of God’s dream, to choose to dream with him, to want to build with him, to join him in this saga of building a world where no one will feel alone.
All family life is a shepherding in mercy. Each of us, by our love and care, leaves a mark on the life of others… Each of us is a fisher of men who in Jesus’ name casts the nets to others, or a farmer who tills the fresh soil of those whom he or she loves, seeking to bring out the best in them. Marital fruitfulness involves helping others, for to love anybody is to expect from him something which can neither be defined nor foreseen; it is at the same time in some way to make it possible for him to fulfill this expectation. This is itself a way to worship God, who has sown so much good in others in the hope that we will help make it grow.
It is a profound spiritual experience to contemplate our loved ones with the eyes of God and to see Christ in them. This demands a freedom and openness which enable us to appreciate their dignity. We can be fully present to others only by giving fully to ourselves and forgetting all else. Our loved ones merit our complete attention. Jesus is our model in this, for whenever people approached to speak with him, he would meet their gaze, directly and lovingly. No one felt overlooked in his presence, since his words and gestures conveyed the question: “What do you want me to do for you?” This is what we experience in the daily life of the family. We are constantly reminded that each of those who live with us merits attention, since he or she possesses infinite dignity as an object of the Father’s immense love. This gives rise to a tenderness which can “stir in the other the joy of having loved. Tenderness is expressed in a particular way by exercising loving care in treating the limitations of the other, especially when they are evident.
Led by the Spirit, the family circle is not only open to life by generating it within itself, but also by going forth and spreading life by caring for others and seeking happiness. This openness finds particular expression in hospitality, which the word of God eloquently encourages: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” When a family is welcoming and reaching out to others, especially the poor and the neglected, it is a “symbol, witness and participant in the Church’s motherhood.” Social love, as a reflection of the Trinity, is what truly unifies the spiritual meaning of the family and its mission to others, for it makes present the kerygma in all its communal imperatives. The family lives its spirituality precisely by being at one and the same time a domestic church and a vital cell for transforming the world.
The teaching of Christ and Saint Paul on marriage is set in the context of the ultimate and definitive dimension of our human existence. We urgently need to rediscover the richness of this teaching. By heeding it, married couples will come to see the deeper meaning of their journey through life.