This is the fourth post in a four-week series on the themes of Advent. Advent means coming or arrival, and we are preparing for two things, 1) The arrival of Christmas, where we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and 2) The arrival of the second coming of Jesus.
The Christmas Pig by J.K. Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Field
I really enjoyed The Christmas Pig. I read it out loud to my 9-year-old, and the book had both of us crying with big tears at least four times. There is a lot to discuss about the book’s ending, but I will focus on the beginning to avoid spoilers since it has only been out for two months.
Part 1 of the book: Jack is a boy with a favorite stuffed animal, DP. Jack’s parents divorce, and DP becomes Jack’s confidant. He tells DP all of his sad thoughts and feelings. Jack’s dad eventually gets a new job and moves, and Jack rarely sees him anymore. Again, Jack shares all his emotions about this with DP. Jack’s mom decides to move closer to her parents for help. Jack leaves all of his friends and moves to a new school where he has no friends. Again, Jack shares his pain with DP. One popular older girl at school, Holly, helps Jack make friends. Holly’s friendly demeanor starts to change. When Jack asks, she tells him her parents are getting divorced. She rarely sees her dad anymore, and she would prefer to live with him. After a few years, Jack’s mom marries Holly’s dad. This makes Holly very jealous of Jack as he gets to live with her dad. Holly, once a friend, is now moody, mean, and a big bully. This anger and resentment she feels towards Jack cause her to throw DP out the window on the freeway. DP is lost, sending Jack on an adventure to get him back.
The fourth week of Advent focuses on love:
Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who belives in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
We can learn a lot about who God is but reading how He works in the bible. For example, God could have given us His Son in many different ways, but His choice was through the family. Joseph wanted to divorce Mary quietly (Mt 1:19), but God ensured that His son had a mother AND earthly father. What does this reveal to us about the importance of the family to God?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:
2207 The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society.
Joseph and Mary freely gave themselves to the family God asked of them in every way. They gave up their reputations, their own vision of their lives and even moved to Egypt in a single notice. This family life was Jesus’ “initiation into life in society.” Joseph and Mary put this family unit ahead of themselves.
Love is an action, a choice, and not a feeling.
I respect J.K. Rowling for not downplaying the pain these children felt over their parents’ divorce. IT WAS CLEAR! After reading these parts, my son asked me if his father and I would ever divorce. When I said no, he continued by stating, “How could you know for sure as the father in the book just decided, ‘he didn’t want to be married anymore.'”
I don’t want to suggest that all marriages are good and all divorce is evil. That would be too simplistic, and we don’t live in a simple world. Many people say their parent’s divorce was the best thing for their family (my husband being one of them). However, the consequences of divorce are always present, and my husband, at least once a year, says, “We wouldn’t be having this issue if my parents weren’t divorced.”
I think we all can agree that divorce is ever too present in our society, and we downplay the long-term negative consequences of divorce. If the family is “the original cell of social life” and the family disintegrates, what happens to society?
Our first responsibility is service to our family. Saint Teresa of Calcutta said, “We are commanded to love God and our neighbor equally, without difference. We don’t have to look for the opportunities to fill this command, they’re all around us, twenty-four hours a day. You must open your eyes wide so that you can see the opportunities to give wholehearted, free service right where you are, in your family. If you don’t give such service in your family, you will not be able to give it to those outside your home” (Thirsting for God: Daily Meditations).
We don’t know much about the childhood of Jesus. But, we can assume his time was spent serving and loving his family. He gave His love first to His family and second to His public ministry.
Sister Lucia, a Marian visionary, wrote, “a time will come when the decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family. And those who will work for the good of the family will experience persecution and tribulation. But do not be afraid, because Our Lady has already crushed his head” (Aletia).
Christmas is known as a time for the family. How will you “work for the good of the family” in this final week of Advent? Consider loving via service to those closest to you, as they are always the hardest to love.
For more information on the sacrament of marriage and the Fourth Commandment, see CCC 1601-1666 and 2197-2257.
Note: I am not suggesting everyone’s vocation is to get married and start a family, but everyone is required to participate for the ‘good of the human family.’
CCC 2231 Some forgo marriage in order to care for their parents or brothers and sisters, to give themselves more completely to a profession, or to serve other honorable ends. They can contribute greatly to the good of the human family.