Marriage and family life are punctuated with times of great happiness and joy, such as the wedding day and the birth of a child. Also known to family life are times of great sadness as daily struggles, illness and death are contended with.
These times of joy and sadness help us to see the dignity of each person as we learn to really love by putting aside our selfish desires, and reaching out as gift and service to those around us.
In the book of Genesis, we learn that each person is made in the image of God. This means that we were created out of love, for love, and are therefore made for communion and to share in God’s joy.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made this point at the 2012 World Meeting of Families when he said “it is love that makes the human person the authentic image of the Blessed Trinity, [the] image of God.”
This love is different than what the world would have us believe love is. It does not seek to put self first, but rather places the needs of others – both temporal and spiritual – above our own. Real love, puts aside raw emotion, which can oftentimes distort our perception of reality, and focuses on the good of the other. Love wants what is best for the beloved. Through following God’s truth about marriage and family life, revealed through the Church, we are able to grow in authentic love for one another.
We are reminded by St Gianna Molla, a wife and mother who understood what sacrifice was all about, that “love must be total, full, complete, governed by God’s law, and it must carry over into eternity.”
True joy comes to us when we realise that this love and communion with God and others is what we were made for. When we embrace this calling and live it authentically we are able to communicate to the world the great joy of following Christ.