Selected Sunday Scriptures- #28

Today is Father’s Day in the United States, and so in honor of that I decided to focus on this passage from the Book of Sirach:

Listen to me your father, O children;
    and act accordingly, that you may be kept in safety.
For the Lord honored the father above the children,
    and he confirmed the right of the mother over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
    and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure.
Whoever honors his father will be gladdened by his own children,
    and when he prays he will be heard.
Whoever glorifies his father will have long life,
    and whoever obeys the Lord will refresh his mother;
    he will serve his parents as his masters.
Honor your father by word and deed,
    that a blessing from him may come upon you.
For a father’s blessing strengthens the houses of the children,
    but a mother’s curse uproots their foundations.

10 Do not glorify yourself by dishonoring your father,
    for your father’s dishonor is no glory to you.
11 For a man’s glory comes from honoring his father,
    and it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother.
12 O son, help your father in his old age,
    and do not grieve him as long as he lives;
13 even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance;
    in all your strength do not despise him.
14 For kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
    and against your sins it will be credited to you;
15 in the day of your affliction it will be remembered in your favor;
    as frost in fair weather, your sins will melt away.
16 Whoever forsakes his father is like a blasphemer,
    and whoever angers his mother is cursed by the Lord.

(Sirach 3:1-16)

Saint Paul builds upon this in his Letter to the Ephesians:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.”

(Ephesians 6:1-3)

There really isn’t much room for commentary here. Scripture is clear that we are to honor our parents, and although the holiday is a secular one (that largely exists to sell cards), that doesn’t mean we cannot use it a reminder to honor our fathers. This is so whether they live or not- for even if they have gone to sleep we still can honor their memory through our lives, as how we live reflects on them.

[Incidentally, I think that they handled this well at Mass. Father’s Day wasn’t mentioned until the end, and when it was, it was treated both respectfully and briefly. Just the way it should be.]

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Selected Sunday Scriptures- #28

  1. mdavid

    DG, There really isn’t much room for commentary here. Scripture is clear that we are to honor our parents…

    Nice commentary. I’ve never read that Sirach passage very closely and did so for the first time today.

    I’m not sure I agree on the simplicity of Scripture on this issue though. Take the two passages you mention: one says to “honor”, but the other to “obey”. Obey? That’s a tall order that nobody that I know today does unless it matches their own inclinations. Add to this the cultural complexity of how all this plays out in the light of atomized and abandoned families today, I’m unsure of what the modern application looks like. Remember also that a son is to marry and “leave his father and mother” and cling to his wife. One can’t always please wife while obeying two mothers and two fathers. And God as well since they usually all disagree.

    When these texts were written, families were in general extended and people clung to families, especially elderly parents and women, for mere survival – jobs, clothing, food. We probably need to read the passages in the light of this, with much of the “honor” part making sure everyone was cared for and fed in their old age. Today, the State takes on that role, unfortunately, leaving many parents (and women) free to act as irresponsibly as they wish with no boundaries.

  2. @ mdavid

    The phrase “easy to understand, difficult to obey” comes to mind here.

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