|Posted on December 14, 2020 at 7:25 AM|
I am continuing my review of the Ten Commandments. Commandments four through ten relate to love of neighbor and these are summarized by Jesus’ “second” commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” True love does no wrong to any neighbor.
The fourth of the Ten Commandments is “Honor your father and mother.” It stems from the fact that we should honor our parents to whom we owe our life and who have cared for us and hopefully have handed on to us the knowledge of God.
Although at first glance this commandment seems to focus solely on children’s relationship to their parents, in reality it goes way beyond this. It also concerns ties to extended family - all of our elders, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and other ancestors are included. But also included are those persons who act in the place of parents – those people holding positions of legitimate authority in our lives. This includes, but is not limited to, teachers, employers, and government leaders.
According to the Catechism, marriage and the family are the basis of this commandment. Marriage of a man and a woman is ordered by God toward procreation and ensuring the safe survival of our human species. “In creating man and woman, God instituted the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution. Its members are persons equal in dignity.” (Catechism 2203)
The family is the original social unit. The family is the community in which children can learn moral values, knowledge of God and how to function in society. Therefore, parents provide a key role in the upbringing of children. Parents have the duty to provide loving guidance to their children. Children in turn have the responsibility to love and honor their parents. And society has a duty to honor families and to assist them in their responsibilities.
In examining how well you heed this commandment you can ask yourself the following questions: Have I shown special respect to my parents, my elders, and those in positions of legitimate authority over me? Have I avoided judging others and purposefully thinking evil thoughts about them?
Most people have struggled with this commandment over the years. As a teenager, I know I felt that my parents were sometimes being “unfair” by not allowing me to do certain things I wanted to do or setting an early curfew. But as I got older I began to realize that they really did love me and they set these limits to help guide me to become strong in my faith and become a responsible, caring woman.
As my parents grew older and became ill, it fell to me to provide care for them when I could. As a parent myself with a full-time job, I was unable to provide 24/7 care for them, but I did try to ensure that others were available who could care for their needs. I know I was not perfect, but I did try to honor my parents.
However not everyone grows up with a loving father and mother, as we all well know. Neglect and abuse by trusted family members and other key persons in society have traumatized many people, and as a result it is hard for them to understand and honor this commandment.
Today, my struggle with this commandment has to do with people in society who hold leadership positions. Persons involved in America’s recent governmental elections unfortunately provided fodder for many of the masses to fall short in their honor of people. I was dismayed at the barrage of mud-slinging that occurred on all sides during the days leading up to the election - few people seemed to give respect to those already in elected positions or those running to fill a spot. And even now, after the elections are over, many people still harbor anger and resentment towards people in leadership positions, and even political parties in general, and I’m still seeing it on both sides of the fence.
Sadly, I too was pulled into the fray several weeks ago, with negative thoughts towards certain candidates running rampant at times through my mind, and I admit I voiced some of those thoughts to others. Fortunately, I finally realized that I was not obeying the fourth commandment, and that my attitude was not only sinning against God and God’s children, but also causing anxiety and upset for me too.
So I went to confession to get help. The grace I received in that small room with the priest acting in the place of Jesus was incredible! It helped to release the pull of this sin, and I began to be more charitable in my thoughts towards others. It became much easier to respect people even if I did not agree with them.
This week I urge you to look at the fourth commandment a little deeper than you have looked before. Look not just to how you treat your parents, but how you treat others, especially those in leadership positions. If you are having trouble honoring some of God’s children, I suggest taking the time to go to confession and ask God for help. Confession is a beautiful gift from God – one that can help you shed sins and make it easier for you to live as God intended. May you be blessed as we move one week closer to Christmas.
Have a blessed Monday!
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