Let’s never forget the fourth commandment. In fact, with the current temper of the times, we have to re-intensify our observance of this commandment that seems to be taken for granted nowadays for a number of reasons.
For one, there seems to be a generalized weakening of family life in the world today. More parents are getting alienated from their children and vice-versa due to some developments whose impact on family life is not well considered.
There are some laws that actually undermine family life, such as the law on abortion, etc. And there are now many aspects of our social and professional life that contribute to this weakening of family life.
We have to remind everyone that the honor, respect, obedience we owe to our parents is due first of all by the fact that they are our first connection with God. It was through them that God put us into existence.
We have to remember that we all come from God, and not only from our parents. When we see our parents, we have to learn to see God immediately behind them. They are the first representative of God to us.
Yes, they all have their share of weaknesses, mistakes and sins, some of them grave, but all these do not and cannot detract from the fact that they are our procreators who cooperated with the Creator in bringing us to life.
They may even beget children through the commission of a crime, like rape. But that again does not take away the truth that they have been an instrument of God in putting a person into existence.
A child is not only a biological being. He has a spiritual soul even while he is still at the first stage of fertilization and gestation. That is why a fertilized human egg is not just a matter of cells. He is already a person with a human spiritual soul.
Parents, of course, should try their best to realize deeply the dignity and the serious responsibility they have. They should not play around with their status as parents.
But as far as the children are concerned, they are duty-bound to honor and love their parents. St. Paul already spoke clearly about this duty: “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.” (Eph 6, 1) And, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” (Col 3, 20)
Children should try their best to make their parents happy all the time. They should avoid as much as possible to give them problems, especially the unnecessary ones. They should be quick to lend a hand in the house chores. They should prepare themselves for the time when they will have to take care of their parents in their old age.
Inculcating this duty in the mind and heart of the children is crucial because this is the first step that everyone learns how to obey other legitimate authorities. Let’s remember that we as social beings, let alone political ones also, always have to be subject to some authority, and it is important that we know how to be subject to authority.
Everyone should be reminded that any legitimate authority we have in this life is always a participation in the authority of God. Consider the following words of St. Paul:
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished…” (Rom 13, 1-2)
So, it’s clear that the commandment of honoring our parents, our first authority on earth, paves the way to our proper submission to the other authorities in our life.
Fr. Roy Cimagala is the Chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise, Talamban, Cebu City (firstname.lastname@example.org)/WDJ