Sunday, October 30, 2016
As members of the family of God we need to interact with the wider family made up of parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and even neighbors. This greater family may have members who require assistance, or at least companionship and affection, or consolation amid suffering. The individualism so prevalent today can lead to creating small nests of security, where others are perceived as bothersome or a threat. Such isolation cannot offer greater peace or happiness; rather, it drains the heart of a family and makes its life all the more narrow. First, let us think of our parents. Jesus told the Pharisees that abandoning one’s parents is contrary to God’s law. We do well to remember that each of us is a son or daughter. “Even if one becomes an adult, or an elderly person, even if one becomes a parent, if one occupies a position of responsibility, underneath all of this is still the identity of a child. We are all sons and daughters. And this always brings us back to the fact that we did not give ourselves life but that we received it. The great gift of life is the first gift that we received.” Hence, “the fourth commandment asks children… to honor their father and mother. This commandment comes immediately after those dealing with God himself. Indeed, it has to do with something sacred, something divine, and something at the basis of every other kind of human respect. The biblical formulation of the fourth commandment goes on to say: ‘that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you’. The virtuous bond between generations is the guarantee of the future, and is the guarantee of a truly humane society. A society with children who do not honor parents is a society without honor… It is a society destined to be filled with surly and greedy young people.” There is, however, another side to the coin. As the word of God tells us, “a man leaves his father and his mother.” This does not always happen, and a marriage is hampered by the failure to make this necessary sacrifice and surrender. Parents must not be abandoned or ignored, but marriage itself demands that they be “left”, so that the new home will be a true hearth, a place of security, hope and future plans, and the couple can truly become “one flesh.” In some marriages, one spouse keeps secrets from the other, confiding them instead to his or her parents. As a result, the opinions of their parents become more important than the feelings and opinions of their spouse. This situation cannot go on for long, and even if it takes time, both spouses need to make the effort to grow in trust and communication. Marriage challenges husbands and wives to find new ways of being sons and daughters.