Feast of the Holy Family
First Reading: Ecclesiasticus 3: 2-6, 12-14
Family relationships are fundamental to our well-being - a fact that the Old Testament is at pains to point out today.
It would seem that the tendency for the generations to disagree is one that goes back centuries.
The language of the reading may seem unfamiliar - but the principles that it lays out are sound and have stood the test of time.
It speaks of the respect due to parents - and sees that respect as evidence of the love one has for God.
In our day, mutual respect is not something we talk about often and certainly not within families. And yet, it is a firm foundation for the rest of life
The problem with words like honouring - and respecting - is that they are often associated with one-sided respect and honour - usually associated with “patriarchy” - where one member of the family was entitled to all honour and respect and the rest of the family were, in effect, subservient to that. This is not the quality of respect described in Ecclesiasticus. Here the respect is characterised by kindness and setting elders at ease. This respect is born not of fear but out of an awareness of having been loved and provided for in one's own dependence.
If children grow up in security and love, they can face much of what the world throws at them. If their needs are respected - rather than their wants indulged - they learn respect for others and also respect for themselves. They are free to be kind - and to honour others - because they know that they are loved and respected in their turn.
What does it mean for me?
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