Husband & Wife Articles


 

Evangelization and the Family

Showing forth God in your marriage

By Chris Mooney

Thanks to our recent popes promoting the New Evangelization, Catholics are reminded that spreading the faith is at the core of being Catholic. We must all evangelize if we are to honor our Lord’s command to “make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20) and truly believe that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

In this call to spread the Gospel, the Christian family plays a crucial role.

The essence of evangelization is preaching the Gospel of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. The apostle Paul writes, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). Evangelization is not possible without the clear articulation and explanation of the Gospel so that others might hear the word of Christ. This does not demand that all Christians take to the streets to preach; it is possible to show what we believe by what we say and do each day.

One of the simplest ways our family does this is by inviting friends into our home who want to learn about Christianity or the Catholic Church, perhaps over a movie, dinner, or tea. My wife and I can share our experiences, complement each other in answering questions or offering advice, and pray together for the work of the Holy Spirit.

Because our marriage is centered on the love of Christ, these conversations are always extremely enriching for us and draw us closer together in loving each other. Moreover, evangelization within the home confirms the work of raising our children in the faith. If I were to treat the faith as merely optional in discussions with our guests, then my children would think it is optional for them as well. Instead, the imperative to share our faith becomes one more way to show them what it means to be a Catholic.

At the same time, our actions commend the faith we profess in words. They are essential to living out Jesus’ call to discipleship. Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16). Indeed, God has created us for the purpose of shining his light through us, so that we can be conduits of his love and grace. But more than just our imaging God in our individual lives, God has set aside the family as a particularly exalted means of showing—even sharing in—his light.

God has designed marriage, from the very beginning of creation, to be an image of his divine plan in Christ. St. Paul writes that marriage is a profound mystery that even “refers to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:32). God designed marriage to provide a picture, however fleeting, of what Christ’s eternal love for his own bride—his Church—looks like. At the same time, Christ’s love for his Church now becomes the standard and archetype of our marriages, especially for the husband who in this divine drama takes the part of Christ. How did Christ love his bride? That’s how we should love our wives. A high calling that men must take seriously.

My wife and I often think of this verse in Ephesians when we consider what our marriage says about how Christ loves his Church. Does my love for my wife give people an image, however limited, of how the Son of God loves us? This question often helps me to consider whether the way I talk about my wife before my friends and parents, or set aside time to care for her and be with her, reflects the ways of Christ. When a husband belittles his wife, even through little jests, or saves his time for himself when his wife is in need, he belittles and undermines the love of Christ.

But when a husband is patient, gentle, kind, understanding, sacrificial and humble, he shows others who our God is. What a wonderful witness this is to the world, and more importantly, to our children, who first form an idea of the love of God through the lived-out love of their parents.

We aim to make our home, especially through our prayers and hospitality, an image of Christ’s love, so that when we speak of his Gospel with our words, our actions back them up.

Chris Mooney received a Classics degree from Georgetown in 2013 and is currently a student at Yale Divinity School, studying Patristic and Medieval theology. He lives in New Haven with his wife, Julia, and their son, Christopher.