Larry couldn’t get married until he was in his early thirties because he had to take care of his widowed mother, but then, when it was time, he met Kathy and, amazingly, it was love at first sight! I didn’t come along till ten years later and forever I will be the baby of the family for my 3 older siblings. I still like that role!!!
Larry and Kathy weren’t theologians. They simply grew up in Irish Catholic families that practiced the faith so they themselves had been nurtured by the words about marriage and family that Saint Paul presents to us: a vision of love that we can live by. We are to live and love one another in marriage and in family in such a way that we know indeed that God is love and He is among us. We let His grace guide and shape our lives.
Larry and Kathy weren’t perfect. Their marriage wasn’t always easy. My father struggled with depression at times … Then he would harshly criticize my mother for being naïve. His work in government service had opened his eyes to corrupt sides of this world that he found really painful to see. Yet she had enough faith for the two of them – and for all the family! It was that faith that got them through and continually opened them to a bigger way of seeing everyday reality.
The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed … A mustard tree isn’t one of those majestic sequoia or redwood trees, towering gloriously toward heaven. Rather it is more like a huge shrub, dense and compact – often considered more like a weed in Jesus’ time!
It would be easy today to fall into depression with ever increasing complexity, divisiveness, and conflict: seeing life more as a brambly thorn bush, or a tumbleweed blown aimlessly by the wind. In the light of faith, we see the Kingdom of God: a richly dense mustard tree, a tapestry that the infinite and loving God is indeed weaving and interweaving, generating ever more love and extraordinarily beauty.
I praise and thank the Lord for Larry and Kathy who formed my heart and my mind in this true vision of reality!
Saint John Paul II proclaimed: “Families, become what you are!” May our Church be this family of families, calling humanity today to the Kingdom of God.
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About Father Jim Phalan, C.S.C.
Father James Phalan, C.S.C., is a Catholic priest, member of the Congregation of Holy Cross and the National Director of Family Rosary. He served as a missionary for many years travelling the globe to help people come to Jesus through Mary as part of the Family Rosary team. Now he is happy to be serving back at home in the USA!