Men Must Embrace their Chosen Life
For the past few months we have reflected on the phenomenon of the violence of men in South Africa. We have looked at likely causes of this tendency: The nature of men? Patriarchy? The relegation of men by political correctness from leadership in the family and in society? The abandoning of Christian norms of behaviour?
The problem is so serious that the Church has to develop an appropriate ministry to address it.
I believe, the first thing the Church needs to do is to present a clear vision of the Catholic man, modelled on the Man for all men – Jesus of Nazareth.
He who came primarily to restore the fullness of God’s image and likeness in man. He is the perfect model of relationships between man and God, and between man and man.
From the beginning he called on us to acknowledge the disastrous effects that sin has on every man and woman, in particular on interpersonal relations.
The creation story in Genesis gives us the framework for understanding that God sent Jesus to undo what sin had destroyed, but also to show us how to discover and do God’s will.
It was Jesus’ humility and obedience that defined his relationship with his Father as the ideal for every man and woman: “I always do the will of my Father; The Father and I are one!”
The Annunciation story gives us the next step towards becoming what God wants us to be.
Mary exemplifies the kind of life we are called to live – one that is open to God, that listens attentively to his Word, that is humble in seeking his will, and that culminates in a simple faith that says: “Let it be done to me according to your word.”
The divorce and marriage story in Matthew defines man’s vocation and role in marriage and the family. Jesus teaches unambiguously that he came to re-establish God’s original order: “He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said: ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder'” (Mt 19:4-6).
So, in its ministry the Church is to set up the original order for marriage and family life as the benchmark for all relationships between men and women. This requires each man to embrace fully his chosen state in life. If it is marriage and fatherhood then he must be an equal partner and complement his wife especially in their common vocation of procreating and raising a family.
I leave it to the great Apostle Paul to sum up what our men need to be and to do: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-28). Updated from 2013