CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Family and the common good

HONG KONG (SE): “The family exists at the heart of all societies. It is the first and most basic community to which every person belongs,” the bishops of the United States of America wrote in their in their message for the 1994 United Nations Year of the Family, Follow the way of love.

While they also say, “A committed, permanent, faithful relationship of husband and wife is the root of a family, as it strengthens members, provides best for the needs of children,” it is extremely difficult to give an all embracing definition or description of what exactly constitutes a family in modern societies.

Ideally, both in the religious and secular fields, it is held to be father and mother and children, but in reality it embraces many mixes of people, bound by a relationship of deep and life-giving care.

What characterises family life is a special way of loving. People speak of abiding peace, but also searing pain, moments of joy and disappointment, heroic struggles and ordinary routines.

“Family is where someone loves you no matter what,” one teenager proclaims.

“Family does not mean just mum, dad and children, but grandparents, aunts, uncles and others,” another reflects.

A father observes, “In a family, you don’t have to look very far to find your cross.” A young mother adds, “My child asks me such mysterious questions. I learn so much.”

A single parent recalls, “My teenagers were very sensitive to me during my divorce. God was there for me.”

Pope John Paul II wrote, “The story of family life is a story about love—shared, nurtured and sometimes rejected or lost.”

In is within this story of shared love, care and shattered dreams that we find the key to promoting the common good.

Pope John Paul argued that there is an intricate connection between family and the common good, or the “good of all and of each individual.”

Working for the common good should not be understood only as a summons to charity. It is best served when all are able to make their own contributions to social and economic life.

Healthy families make a healthy and prosperous social environment that all can share.

St. Thomas Aquinas argues that each person is a common good in their own right.

“Man is a common good,” he says, “… of the nation; but in a much more concrete… way he is a common good of his family.”

The common good is one in which everyone can share without it being diminished and its creation has its roots in the family. It is everyone’s responsibility and is, in an enabling way, shared by the state.

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