How to be an icon of God

icon of the Holy FamilyPope Francis wrote in his apostolic exhortation The Joy of Love, paragraph #11: “The couple that loves and begets life is a true, living icon … capable of revealing God the Creator and Saviour. For this reason, fruitful love becomes a symbol of God’s inner life…. The couple’s fruitful relationship becomes an image for understanding and describing the mystery of God himself.”

In looking at the icon of the Holy Family on the right, what do you like about it? Do you feel the reflection of God in it?

Notice how Mary and Joseph are embracing each other. Notice their eyes and the contentment on their faces. What else do you see in their faces?

The love you have for your sweetheart is an icon, too. What do people around you see in your faces when the two of you are together?

Notice how Joseph has a protective hand on Mary’s shoulder. What does this say to you about the role of the husband in marriage? What does it say about the role of Father God in your life?

Look at the three hands in front. Notice that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are touching not just one but both of their beloveds at the same time — and in a relaxed posture. What does this say to you about the unity of family?

How do all of these meanings reveal to you God’s plan for marriage and family?

We who are married also reveal God’s plan for marriage — to the world — in every loving gesture, every loving gaze, every relaxed moment of mutual peace and safety. This is something to remember when we’re in a bad mood and feel like portraying quite a different picture. How can non-believers meet God if not by seeing him in us? How can homosexuals and unmarried lovers and childless couples discover the beauty of God’s plan for marriage if we are not the icons that God calls us to be (and empowers us to be, because he equips us to do whatever he calls us to do)?

Here’s a short clip about this from the Paracletia video course that begins on Monday. The course briefly covers the important themes of The Joy of Love. For more information about the course or to register, go to

* Note: This clip is better understood in context with the entire video that it came from and is best understood in context with the whole of Chapter One of The Joy of Love. For example, in saying that the family is to be an icon of God by including children, this is not addressing the pain of couples who have tried to conceive or carry a child to term but were unable to. Their suffering is acknowledged elsewhere in the book. Nor is the term “icon” meant to imply worship of anyone but the Lord who is represented by the couple and by the family. It is our hope that this reflection and this video course will inspire the reading of the entire book, which will clear up any misunderstandings caused by my all-too-brief comments about it.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What do I like best about my relationship with my beloved? How is this an icon of God?
  2. What do others see when they look at us? Has anyone told me what they like (or don’t like) about our relationship? How does this reflect on God (or something else)?

Strengthen your relationship:
Share with each other your observations about the icon of the Holy Family. Then pray together, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you both into becoming a more visible icon of God’s love for others.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
© 2016 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries

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