[Diocesan Metropolitan of Madras Diocese, Malankara Orthodox Church]


When we hear the phrase 'Planning the Family', the immediate thought that comes to our mind is the planning for less number of children in the family as a measure of population control. But planning of family have a very wider perspective especially in case of Christian families. Planning of a family is the process of setting up the roadmap to find resources for godly living, to equip the members to better serve God and the society and to establish physical, mental and spiritual intimacy in a modern world. A good planning for the family pave the way for values and principles that promote the integrity of Christian family life.

In English we use two words to refer our dwelling place - House or Home. Home is more near to heart. There should be a special relationship at home. Our dwelling places should not be debased as a holding place for the members or a base camp for night sleep and quick food. It is not storage of our cloths, books and other personal belongings. It should be a place to learn, apply, and teach Christian values to live in and to know Christ more intimately.

In the modern world raising a family may be the most exciting and fulfilling adventure of our life providing security for our loved ones. As a matter of fact, Family Financial Planning is a very important aspect of the family for a contented life centered in Christ and to avoid potential crisis and conflicts. A honest and open communication is an essential need in the family planning for the integrity of the family.

A consistent prayer life is one of the most important agenda of planning the family. The family who pray together stay together. Moments of family prayer are wonderful faith-sharing opportunities. Christian home is the central institution of society and it needs a great planning and schedule for prayer life. A life focused by prayer is a life that will be tuned in to God's love and care. In the same way, a family who eat together also live together. Eating together and keeping an open dialog in a family is also right at the top of the priorities of family planning for a sense of security and intimacy and it keeps every member to grow closer and understand one another better and better.

Our Lord talked on the shore of Galilee, in very simple language about very common family and various matters concerning the family. Speaker neither had any pulpit to raise Him nor any microphone to amplify His voice. The listeners did not have any shelter to sit and hear Him. The people sat down on the hot sand shore and speaker spoke from a boat or a mountain. As His talk was deeply concerned with their own day-to-day life, they heeded and listened Him very keenly and attentively. His words were of consolation and He healed their sicks.

It is an innate desire of every human that others should love him or her. Whatsoever you would like that men should do to you, do you even so to them. This was the great rule of justice laid down to achieve our own desire. The golden rule of equity is, to do to others as we would like they should do to us. Many people grumble that they are not being loved or cared by others. As we must bear the same affection to our neighbor we will be returned with fulfillment of our desire to be loved by others.

Today, counseling is very common everywhere through which we look for professional advices to find the way out from the bottleneck in the course of our life. But Lord consoles us to have no thought of our worldly life. Living is our greatest concern for this world; all that a man will give for his life. Think neither about continuance nor about comforts of life. We must not be solicitous for food and raiment or any thought for the morrow, as fowls of the air sow not; neither do they reap but the heavenly Father feeds them. These all were words of great comfort, solace and great hope of consolation. Our Lord's promise is that the consolation which He give is real and true and not like that given by the world. It is a great hope which cannot be attained by any radical or fundamental circumstances.

What is the real blessing or luck in our life? Getting the good part is the luck of our life. There is no need but of one thing and Mary had chosen this good part, nobody can never take it away from her. There is great need of one heart to attend upon the word of God than being concerned and troubled about many worldly things. Mary made her right choice for sitting at Christís feet, to hear His words. Jesus exhorts us to take His yoke upon us, and learn of Him; for He is meek and lowly in heart: and we shall find rest unto our souls.

The contemporary society is facing a great crisis about family matters. The divorce cases are tremendously growing. Many people suicide for flimsy reasons. It is a mere cowardliness to run away from life. The Church has a great mission to work for the society at this juncture. The anointed ones should be prepared to shed tears in prayer for people. They should have a consoling and healing touch. Earth is a symbol of endurance as the mother is also totally enduring. In the same terms, Church also should be enduring. It should be as holy as earth. It is very painful that our purity and culture are being lost. "Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach." [Joel 2:17]

The forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist had come to this word to reconcile between the families. This ministry is very important in our age, as the families have been breaking away. He was the prophet came to this world to enjoin the generations. Hearing his voice in the wilderness, many people from Jerusalem, and all Judea and the entire region round about Jordan came to him and asked him; 'What shall we do?' A similar question Saul asked Jesus when He appeared to him in brightness of the day light; 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' We should originate a culture of worship. Everybody got ample opportunities in their life. One should make use of these opportunities. Psalmist talks of it; 'For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.' [Psalms 32:6] In the parable of the talents, Jesus talk of two type of people, one who well made use of their talents and the other who neglected their talents. In the Old Testament we see a man who had misused his opportunity - Samson. He lost his freedom, eyesight, dignity and everything in life; eventually he pleaded to God; "Lord, give me one more a chance".

The consolation word of Jesus will be accomplished in us when we have a master-in-charge of life. The kingdom of heaven is the realm where God live as the King. We read in the Old Testament that in those days as there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. It was the lack of a leadership. We need a president for our family too. Jesus should be the head of our family. Having a master is not lack of freedom. Freedom is not that we enjoy everything available. True freedom is the courage to say 'No' to certain things. Freedom has its own responsibilities too. Freedom should have boundaries. God is the only one to have a boundless freedom. Good choices lead to the victory of our life.

Another face of the consolation is hope and expectations. The hope of the righteous is gladness and the desire of the devout is always for good. Favorable and confident expectation is one of the main elements of Christian character. Hope is an essential and fundamental promise of Christian life and Christ is the actual object of the believer's hope.

[Extract from Message delivered at Kallooppara Convention 2005 - Reported By Cherian John and Alex Pothen]
Original in Malayalam : Translated by Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA
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