Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Shortly after my mother died, I received a beautiful note from a woman who grew up down the street saying that as a child she had found refuge in our home because of my mother’s warmth and welcome—her sharing of Jesus’ love. I always assumed this childhood friend simply enjoyed playing jacks, but it turns out our home was a light to the neighborhood.
In this Sunday’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah predicts the coming of “a light to the nations.” In the Gospel, John the Baptist reveals this saving light—Jesus, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” God’s plan of salvation extends from the Jewish race to all peoples—all nations. The Second Vatican Council document, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen gentium, translating into, “Light of the Nations,” reminds us the Church exists “to bring the light of Christ to all men…” (n.1).
According to Lumen gentium, Christ’s light also shines through the Christian family as a “domestic church,” the church in the miniature—the church of the home. In the domestic church, members are washed clean through tears of forgiveness and reconciliation, nourished by good food and rich conversation, and anointed through bedtime blessing. As the domestic church, “the family is called to join in daily prayer, to read the word of God and to share in Eucharistic communion, and thus grow in love and become ever more fully a temple in which the Spirit dwells” (The Joy of Love, Pope Francis, n. 29).
Perhaps the domestic church shines most brightly as a “contrast society” (Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manuel for Evangelization, Scott Hahn). In a world of violence, alienation, consumerism, and depression, the domestic church offers a contrast of life, love, inclusion, intimacy, peace, simplicity and joy. In a society where families are pulled apart by demanding work schedules, relentless activity, and endless entertainment or ripped apart by selfishness or addiction, the domestic church testifies to a new way of living—a better way of loving as self-gift.
In the domestic church, parents/grandparents name God’s tender presence—grace—when helping a tired mother, comforting a sick grandfather, consoling a disheartened sibling, or welcoming a lonely neighborhood child. Its warmth radiates as members spend time aiding an elderly neighbor, serving in a soup kitchen, or working on a community project. And, in Christ, each domestic church always makes room for one more around the family table.
No domestic church is perfect, yet the Christian family ideally responds to trials with prayer, mercy, tenderness, and hope. We are reminded, “a family is holy not because it is perfect but because God's grace is working in it” (Follow the Way of Love, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 9). Through good times and bad, Christ’s light prevails in the domestic church, causing others to comment, “See how they love one another.”
Our world is in deep need of Christ’s vision, and as the great preacher, Martin Luther King Jr., proclaimed, “I have a dream!” God has a dream for the Church to lead all of humanity to Christ—to a world of peace, justice, joy. God has a dream for each family to shine brightly as the domestic church, transforming our world—one porch light at a time! Now, that’s good news!
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.