Many years ago preachers used the following story to illustrate a family's impact on the world:
A small boy in one family loved to do jig-saw puzzles. One day, in order to keep his son occupied while he read his Sunday newspaper, the boy's father tore up a page containing the map of the world and gave the pieces to his son. He told the young boy, "Let's see if you can assemble this." Within a few minutes, however, the boy was back and the newspaper page was completely put together. The father was amazed and said, "How did you assemble this so quickly?" The boy gave his father a simple answer, "Dad, when you were tearing up the picture of the map of the world I noticed that on the other side there was a picture of a family. I found out that if I put the family back together again, the rest of the world would take care of itself."
This story is an old one, but so very true. Every one of us can be concerned about the terrible plight of the people in Bosnia and Sarejavo and how their families are being hurt. When we analyze it from a distance, we know we can do very little for those families except through our prayers. For our own families, however, our prayers are lived out in our actions.
There is much talk these days about the dysfunctional family, the separated family and the unhappy family. We pray to God that our own families are spared. But are we doing enough? Just take a moment to look at your family and realize that there are people in it who love you, who work for you, who would even die for you. This should prompt us to ask ourselves "what are we doing for each other in our homes?"
Am I high in self-centered love? On charity? Do I have an abundance of selfishness and a lack of compassion? We all need to reflect on these themes.
The teachings of St. Thomas concerning charity can teach us a lot about loving each other. He said, "It is far better to sin by excessive practices of charity, than to be defective when it comes to charity."
It might sound a little simplistic, but it is a truism that it is far better to be a giver than a taker. Givers have happy families and are at peace with themselves. Takers often fail and let their families down in the process. Your family deserves the best from you.