So I’m going over an English assignment for my nine year old son and notice he has a misspelled word in his sentence: “famliy.” I corrected his spelling, and told him that the end of “family” is “ily,” like “I love you.” I also told him that he can think of it this way: Family can be made into an acronym:
I didn’t make that up. Father Stan Fortuna of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal uses that acronym. We thought it was catchy when we heard it, oh, about fifteen years ago, and it has stuck.
My son was a little perplexed what I meant about that and I said to him, “In a family, we are supposed to serve each other. We are, at times, called to forget about ourselves and put others before ourselves. Do you remember what this weekend’s Gospel was?”
“Well..no. I was in the confession line…”
I grabbed my handy dandy Magnificat, and we read the last few sentences of the Holy Gospel for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary time:
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But is shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
So I proceeded to explain to him how in a family, Jesus calls us to serve one another, and that that is what our little “FAMILY” acronym means.
My son then asks, “Why is it called ‘family’? He was inquiring as to the etymology of the word–where it came from. I told him I was not sure, and I Googled it. Here is what I found:
Can I just say I was blown away!!! The very meaning of the word “family” is “servant.”
Eventually I picked my jaw up off the floor and headed out the door to go to Costco with my Sweetheart of 22 years. The 13 y.o. daughter calls down to us, “I’m in charge, right??” To which I responded, “Yes, dear, that’s fine, but that means you have to be their servant, because whoever wishes to be great, must be a servant. The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, so you feel free to go serve your siblings!!”
She laughed. We left.