Ordained in 1994, Rev. Glen Mullan has been the Pastor of Christ the King Parish in Corpus Christi, Texas for the past eight years. He has a B.A. Philosophy from the University of Dallas and an M.A. in Theology from St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.
Although Fr. Mullan did not utilize Doctrinal Homily Outlines for the Year of Faith in preparing this homily, I am reprinting it with his permission as an example of teaching Catholic doctrine in the context of a regular Sunday homily. This is his homily for the Feast of the Holy Family, December 30, 2012. (Sir 3; 1 Jn 3; Lk 2:41-52)
Brave New Family
This fall in the Thursday classes we studied the topic “Brave New World,” based on a fictional novel written in 1930 which describes a new and perfect society being formed, where there is no war, no social problems, and everyone is happy. In order to achieve this perfect society however, human nature has been redefined and re-engineered by industrial technology.
The most fundamental requirement for this Brave New World is the abolition of marriage and the institution known as the family. Basically, everyone belongs to himself and to the state. Motherhood and fatherhood are replaced by the care provided by the state, which is now the creator and regulator of human life, including one’s birth and death.
In the Brave New World, people enjoy ‘freedom’ to indulge human desires, without having to worry about family responsibilities and commitments. It is a life of complete sexual liberty, filled with superficial entertainment. Even one’s work is closely regulated, so there is not even a need for money: everything belongs to the state, which in return for labor, provides you with everything you need: food, housing, medical care, and of course, its institutions raise and educate the children.
Even though it is a fictional novel, the author was writing it as a social commentary on where the world was heading, already in the 1930s. And indeed, what we have seen in the last 100 years is a greater and greater realization of exactly this Brave New World he described.
Through the technologies of contraception, in-vitro fertilization, and through the practices of abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia, society is in fact taking control of how and when people are born, and die.
Through the legalization of divorce, and the redefinition of marriage to include basically any kind of relationship, with or without commitment, with or without children, marriage has effectively been killed and abolished.
And through the welfare state, public education system, and more frequent use of daycare, children are increasingly removed from the direct care and oversight of their parents, and are more and being raised by agencies and institutions other than the family.
In fact, our society is now at the point where the majority of children do not grow up in stable households with both their natural mother and father. Divorce and single parent households have become the new norm. While most people still acknowledge this is not good, this situation is actually part of the design of that “Brave New World,” where man’s life is reinvented through his own power, and the purpose of human life is defined only in terms of economic productivity.
With each year, our society takes further steps toward this “City of Man” that overthrows and rejects God’s natural order. And the only way to overthrow God’s authority in society is to destroy the institution of the family, undermining marriage, undermining the authority of the father and mother.
Our religion teaches that God alone has supreme authority over our lives. The first commandment says, “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” And in the second and third commandments He insists that His name be honored, and that all human activity and work be ordered around the priority of religion: keeping holy His Sabbath day: make the worship of God the central activity of your life, around which you organize your life. And this applies to both individuals and society.
But God’s authority is manifested in people’s lives primarily by means of the fourth commandment: honor “your father and mother.” The reason children must obey parents, is that it is God’s authority they exercise, and His power they share in giving them life.
Parents receive from God His very own authority with regard to their children, that they might serve His will by doing everything to the limit of their resources to provide for, love, and raise those children for the Kingdom of God.
Parents have a tremendous responsibility therefore to fear God, and exercise that role with great care. Children do not belong to parents as their property, and certainly not to society. It is a great sin when a society tries to ‘manufacture’ children in test tubes – children are to be received as a gift from God, as the fruit of love, and entrusted to parents as their sacred charge. Parents are responsible to God for every child brought into existence—and woe to him who fails to reverence and fear God in the act of conceiving new human life!
The authority of parents is therefore higher than the state. God created man to be raised in the institution of a family – which He created; in a home where His dominion can be exercised, through the special love of a mother and father, each of whom is necessary for the development of the child. The institution of the family – father, mother, child – has no substitute. It cannot be replaced by any social institution whatsoever.
When a man divorces his wife, or leaves the mother of his children to go elsewhere, he commits a serious sin for which he will have to answer to God. Under no circumstances can a man abandon his family responsibility as father. It is from God that fatherhood flows. This is his dignity and duty as a man.
But it is also the woman who must realize what a tremendous responsibility and privilege it is to guard and care for life, because it is through the woman that God creates and brings forth children.
Unfortunately, the corrupt new society teaches women to practice a false kind of control over fertility through things like contraception, giving the false message that we are somehow free to do as we please, forgetting that the purpose of motherhood is the fulfillment of God’s designs.
Young men and women need to be educated in the fear of the Lord, who is the author and sole Master of our lives. The institution of marriage and family, by which a husband and wife join their lives to each other in order to bring forth and raise children, is of God’s making, and that sacred structure of the family is to be respected with absolute integrity, or we ending up denying our own nature.
The “Brave New World” that our society is trying to create, with the mentality of contraception, divorce, and so-called freedom to do as you please, is a lie and denial. It is a false attempt to redefine man. And even though it seems to be successful, it does not work at all; it only brings suffering and unhappiness.
We do not belong to the world, but to God. The second reading from 1 John reminds us: “Beloved, we are God’s children. The reason the world does not know us is that it does not know God. We keep His commandments and do what pleases Him.” And the first reading from Sirach outlines parental responsibilities and the structure of the family as set up by God: “God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins and is heard when he prays. He stores up riches who reveres his mother. He will be gladdened by children, and will live a long life.”
As we reflect on the mystery of Christmas, let us remember God did not conquer the world and the devil by means of an army. Nor did He solve world hunger and poverty by means of welfare. God did not achieve salvation by creating a perfect society or brave new world. The Gospel of Matthew begins by listing the family generations of Jesus. The Bible is filled with genealogies! God saved the world through families. The Son of God was born as a baby, and grew up in a human family, under the authority of a father and mother. Over 90% of the time he spent on earth to save mankind, he lived the hidden by sacred life of the human family.
The most powerful institution and authority on earth is not government or empire. It is the family. And even when it is not perfect, it is still the instrument of God’s greatest activity. Let us remember this as we live out our lives in the world today. God shows us in the Holy Family where true power and authority lie.