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Nuclear Assumptions

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The traditional nuclear family of the 1950s will often portray the homecoming of the father from work to the jubilation of his wife and children. Advertisements of the time will show the wife busying , cooking the dinner, ensuring the kids are well-behaved and ensuring that the hard-working man comes home to a clean, happy, household and the smell of a well-made shepherd’s pie.

Thankfully, the days of this image are over. Indeed, this has been only a point of view for a tiny minority of Man’s conversation upon earth. The nuclear family is still the same ideal: mother, father and the children. You cannot get around the biological fact that this is how families are made. What has changed since the 1950s is what was true before the 1950s that women laboured too. They have been as much harvesters as seamstresses, as much community apothecaries as homemakers, as much teachers as childminders. In some way we have to get past the accretions that have been made to our expectation of what family should be. The fact of the matter is that, when the baby is weaned, there is no reason why a father cannot be the main provider of childcare while a woman goes out to work. The parents that work hard for the family reap the rewards of the family. When Mummy comes home from work, there is much joy!

And the Mother of God has come home from her labours! She enters Heaven in the same body which bore her glorious Divine Child. With the same innocent and carefree joy, all the host of Heaven glorify this wonderful Lady and her Son meets her in His child-like thrill and, as He promises all His faithful, wraps her around in His Divinity even as she gave of herself to clothe Him with His humanity through the power of the Holy Ghost.

It is when the worker comes home to the family that the homecoming meal can truly begin. Thus in the Sacrifice of the Mass do we share under the veil of our fallenness in Our Lady’s homecoming as we sit around the banquet table to eat the Bread of True Life. When the veil of sinful flesh has been removed from our eyes we will be able to behold this wonderful feast. God the Father has been keeping house, preparing the meal, making her place ready for her return.

Our Lady is like us. She has no divinity of her own. She has but one nature, one will, one agency. Yet, this is the one who has laboured to bring about the ministry of her Son in the world. She is one who has wrought wages of righteousness rather than the wages of sin. Now that she has come home, the Heavenly Family has Father, Mother and Son reunited. But, the family meal can only begin when all the Children of God are home again. We can smell the cooking, but our labours must come first so that we can bring home the work the God has wrought in us.

This is not the 1950s nuclear family clothed in rose-tinted spectacles: this is the nuclear family of humanity clothed in divinity.

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