Archive for June, 2011

Loving Our Parents

"Honor thy father and thy mother, that th...

"Honor thy father and thy mother, that th...

19 June 2011

Father’s day is celebrated in many countries on the 3rd Sunday of June. The special day  compliments Mother’s day on the 2nd Sunday of May. To give honor to our parents not only on special occasions but to do so everyday is ourduty and obligation to  God .

It is a natural human tendency to form a  family which is a community between man and woman and their children.  In a child’s development,  the family is the natural environment for youngsters to grow. Children learn to socialize  and learn about  their roles within the family.  The virtues of honesty,  sharing, respect, love, honour and sacrifice are learned from home. It is also within the family that a child learns about God through his parents.

Over the past 50 years, the family has been under constant attack from  those who want to  transform society. For instance, during the Cold War,  many children in communist societies were taken out of their families. These children live in camps  and are indoctrinated that loyalty to state is more important the their families. The sexual revolution in Western countries in the 60s and 70s also had an impact on the family life and values.

The liberal trend and the replacement of Christian humanity with secular humanity has led to the breakdown of many families.  As a result, there were significant higher rates of teen pregnancies, divorce and  promotion of same-sex marriages. In Asian countries where families are strongly linked by tradition, materialism and individualism are fast threatening traditional values such as filial piety.  In order to have a sustainable society, the family needs to be protected from the ills in modern society such as egoism, secularism, materialism which could harm the fabric of society.

The 4th commandment tells us to honor our parents. This commandment promises long life to children who honor their parents.  St. José Maria Escriva calls it the “sweet commandment”. We know that Jesus Christ was born in a family with Mary, the mother of God and foster father St. Joseph.  In the wedding at Cana, Christ’s obedience to his mother was manifested when he turned water into wine. It was not yet his time to perform miracles but Jesus obeyed his mother.  When Christ was dying on the cross, he asked John to take care of his mother Mary. Thus, up to the very end Jesus was concerned about his mother.

What does it mean to honour your father and your mother

Love is the cornerstone of the relationship between parents and their children.  However, it is not always easy to love our parents especially if they are not honorable or if they are abusive and provoke their children to anger. There are also children who send their parents to home care and never visit them because they consider them as burdens.  It is when we think of this difficulty that keeping the 4th commandment becomes important.

The 4th commandment bridges the first three commandments  which are focused on man’s relationship with God to the succeeding commandments focused on love of neighbor. Loving our parents is the first expression of our love for our neighbors.

Duties of Parents

  • Look after their children as long as they depend on them;
  • Provide spiritual and material needs, lead by example;
  • Respect their freedom; and
  • Not to provoke them to anger.

Duties of Children

  • Children should remember that they owe their lives and education to their parents;
  • Duty to love and respect;
  • Col 3,20 “Children obey your parents”;
  • Between obedience to God and parents, obey God; and
  • Remember that God is our father.

Benefits of obedience to parents

  • Lesson in responsibility and limits to freedom;
  • Respect  for authority and laws/regulations;
  • Learn self giving when having to take care of old parents;
  • “My son take care of your father, be considerate even if his mind fails (Ecll3)

Blessed John Paul II said that “to maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and children, each member of the family as to become, in a special way, the servant of the others”

Christ, the son of God submitted himself to both his earthly parents and God the Father. Following his example, we should treat our parents the way we would approach our heavenly Father (Hebrew 12, 9 and Malachi 1:6) Let us remember that even as adults, we cannot outgrow God’s commandment of loving and honoring our parents.


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