May 12, 2019 - Pastor Message07/17/2019
“Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).
Mother’s Day gives us a good opportunity to reflect on God’s commandment to honor our parents. We will begin by looking at what the commandment meant in its original context for the ancient Hebrew people. We will then see how that understanding can inform our own responsibility to honor our parents today.
We need to remember that the the Law, including the Ten Commandments, was given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai to direct the Hebrews how to live as God’s chosen people. It gave direction to their relationship with God, but it also gave direction to their relationships with one another as a society. The Law served as the glue that bound Hebrew society together, and, when the Law was broken, their society was weakened.
It is in that context that we can understand the importance of the commandment to honor one’s father and mother. The family is the basic unit of any society, but this was even more so in the ancient Near East, where governments tended to be relatively unconcerned and uninvolved in people’s lives. There was no social safety net beyond the family, so it was absolutely vital that families remained stable and that family members took care of one another. This required children to be obedient to their parents and adult children to take responsibility for caring for aging parents.
Times have changed since the days of Moses, and not always for the better. Traditional family structures are breaking down at an alarming rate, and our society is suffering for it. The government has had to step up and assume many responsibilities formerly met by families, and, at times, has overstepped its authority in doing so. In our contemporary culture, committing to honoring our parents, and striving to form stable and healthy families bound together by God’s laws, can be revolutionary acts. May we keep that in mind this Mother’s Day, and, as we honor our mothers in whatever way is our family’s custom, may we also recommit ourselves to honoring the family and its vital role in society.
Fr. Marc Stockton