Oct. 21, 2016

Interpreting the signs of peace or discord in the family

"How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?" (Lk.12:56)

Jesus posited the question above to his disciples while explaining to them the need for preparadness for the kingdom of heaven. His statement was, "When you see the cloud looming up in the west you say at once that rain is coming, and so it does. And when the wind is from the south you say it's going to be hot, and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the face of the earth and the sky. How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?" (Lk.12:54-56).

Let's say the "cloud of peace" and the "wind of discord" also blow in family life. Let's say also that each family should be able to predict when a hot wind or soft cloud is forming in our relationships with one another in the family. Let's also imagine that often times, we are in position to control some of these winds and clouds from forming and blowing off the basis of family structure. So can we talk about two great signs in the family that could be blown off by either the wind or supported by the cloud?

In every family, there are great moments of peace and terrible moments of discord. Each of these moments has signs that accompany it. Peace, for instance is usually nourished and supported. Family members recognize the causes of such wonderful, happy, memorable signs in the home. These are humors, sharing, affection, support and prayer. Peace forms like clouds in the family. Each member contributes to it. Conversations that lead to peace are healthy and helpful. In the case of husband and wife, there is usually an atmosphere of mutual undertanding characterized by communication. There is no tension and no snapping at each other. Each couple listens actively to the other and hears the other sufficiently enough. Both the speaker and the listener at every conversation feel understood and appreciated. There is neither superior nor inferior feeling because all feel love. Conflicts are properly managed.

Think about the husband and wife's attitude towards one another when there is peace, it is such a gentle and thoughtful openness, humble and self sacrificial devotion to each other. That is the meaning of love. Pope Francis captures such moment this way, "It indicates that love is not rude or impolite; it is not harsh. Its actions, words and gestures are pleasing and not abrasive or rigid. Love abhors making others suffer" (Amoris Laetitia, 99). These are the clouds of peace in the family.

On the contrary, the wind of discord blows so hard. It is characterized by narrow mindedness and selfishness in the family. It also forms gradually. Every family member feels it. The danger is that it begins to separate members of the family in subtle ways. They discover more of their differences than similarities. They begin to compete and find faults. They criticize each other unnecessarily. The husband for instance listens to himself only. The wife feels isolated and sometimes intimidated. She sees only the negative. Each person feels correct all the time. There is usually a high level of sensitivity to actions performed by either spouse. And since communication begins to tear apart, judgments are formed by misinterpretations. These are the winds of discord.

Christ calls us hypocrites if we pretend not to be aware of these moments in our various families. We need to be conscious of each other's feelings and be aware of how we either support or damage the family relationships. Negative attitudes fan into flame the wind of discord in the family while the positive attitudes form the cloud of peace. Let's mean love for one another since only love can sustain the cloud of peace.