Devotional Thought of the Day:
21 Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Christ. 1 Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do. 2 “Respect your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise added: 3 “so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land.” 4 Parents, do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry. Instead, raise them with Christian discipline and instruction. Ephesians 5:21, 6:1-4 (TEV)
19 Be grateful to your parents for bringing you into this world, thus enabling you to become a child of God. And be all the more grateful if it was they who placed in your soul the first seeds of faith and piety, of your Christian way, or of your vocation. (1)
Later this week, my mom and I will take a day and just get away. It will be one year since my dad passed, and the grief and loss that we feel may indeed well up inside of us. So I have been thinking of family a lot recently. This morning I came across St Josemaria’s quote you just read in my devotions, All over the news o that the brokenness of some famous athletes’ families recently aired out in front of the world, and an odd comment on facebook recently, sparked off this blog.
The comment this morning that struck me as odd, was the reference to the Virgin Mary as simply a “vessel”, nothing more, nothing less. It struck me as pragmatic and lifeless, and against the very idea of family as taught in the scripture. For no mother is simply a vessel, a holding place for life for 9 months.
God designed us to be part of families, and while many are dysfunctional… no wait, all are dysfunctional because of sin, that doesn’t mean we should devalue them. Yet that is what we allow. Mother’s are reduced to vessels, and holding tanks. Father’s are thought unnecessary, and of little value. Children are tossed aside, before and after they are born. Siblings are made to think that rivalry is the norm, rather than a loving family.
This isn’t new – you can’t read scripture without seeing the brokenness of families, and directions about how things really should be. Directions that are critical to be really heard, and by that I mean the scriptural meaning of hear – to absorb and let affect and transform you. This is not just something that we can take as what theologians call adiaphora, it is not optional. Nor is it it simply environmental or biological. As an adopted child, I have met my birth mother, and much of who I am, I see in her. As well, I see a lot of my adopted parents as well.
It is the relationship of family, even if we struggle with it.
The reason this is critical is simple. The family is an image of our relationship with God. He is our loving Father, our merciful Brother. We are all siblings, whether we note the relationship, or not.
Frequently, we take the image of family that we know, our broken, confused, dysfunctional families, and those we see, and project them onto our relationship with God. It becomes a fight for who is wiser, or who is in control, who is the authority, who has the rights. And we treat God like we treat our parents, our children, our brothers and sisters.
If instead of projecting on God’s family what we know from dysfunctional experiences, we let it work the other way?
We would honor our parents, praying for them, hearing them.
We would sacrifice for our family, the way Jesus did for us, knowing that in love, no sacrifice is too great for those who are in His family.
We would value the people God has given us, parents, children, siblings in our families, and in our church families.
We would seek those who are part of this family, yet don’t know it… yet.
We would love.
Lord Have mercy as we worship and love you, as we embrace our families in love.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 304-306). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.