Two days ago, we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The first reading is taken from either Sirach 3:2-6,12-14 or Col 3:18-21. The two readings combine to paint a picture on how a family needs to function so as to create an environment of growth and support for family members by issuing the following injunctions:
“Husbands love your wives, and do not be harsh with them”. The word for love that is used here is as in “selfless love,” “sacrificial love,” and “unceasing care and loving service” for your wife’s well-being. It should reflect Christ's love for the church, which is sacrificial, sanctifying, and similar to the love men have for themselves— generous and satisfying. The Bible urges that a husband needs to keep in mind that his wife is a gift from God (Proverbs 18:22), a partner for life (Genesis 2:24), and a mother of his children (Cf. Proverb 31:10-31).
“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Submission here is not an act of debasement but a faithful recognition that there cannot be two captains on a ship. Co-pilots have their roles in making sure a flight takes off, flies, and lands safely. It is a faith issue, recognizing the husband as the God-appointed leader of the household (“as is fitting in the Lord)—a woman whose husband is cruel and violent cannot be expected to do his.
“Children obey your parents in everything; for this is pleasing to the Lord” and “honor your father and mother.” Obedience to parents is a good measure of Christ-likeness in our lives. It is said to be a sign of righteousness, atones for sins, a means of divine blessing, disposes God to hear and answer prayers, and a guarantee for long life and prosperity. It goes on to say that God looks upon children offering patient care for their elderly parents with compassion and that the respect due to parents is not something we can neglect or discard without severe consequences. Honoring our parents is not just about listening and obeying them. It also entails not taking for granted the sacrifices they make for us, taking responsibility for household chores, learning to have respectful and rational conversations on issues you disagree about, and being patient with them if they can’t see your viewpoint, knowing that they may have insights that you don’t have because of their experiences in life. Honoring our parents demand staying connected with them and not just in contact and making sure they are well taken care of in their old age.
Finally, it states, “[Parents] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Col 3:18-21). Parents are encouraged to create a home that is not an overbearing prison or set goals too high for their children to appreciate or be inconsistent with their promises or lack in praise and appreciation or be absent in their children’s lives or create favoritism among their children leading to sibling jealousy, or force their children to take up careers that are not in line with their God-given talents. Children become discouraged when they cannot please, properly obey, or secure a blessing from their parents. Such discouragement can easily lead to either withdrawal and depression or rebellion and acting out.
My friends, the family is created by God and He knows best how we can make it work. Obedient faith is the way to go. May your families remain blessed in the Lord! Amen.