Kunta Kinte: No, This has never been my home. But this is my child and we’re family
Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. Two of today’s Scripture readings from today’s Mass tend to get all the press and commentary.
The 2nd reading from Paul’s letter of the Colossians 3:12-21 because of the famous verse 18:
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as you should in the Lord.
The Gospel reading from Matthew Chapter 2 of Joseph’s flight to Egypt and his decision to go to Nazareth in Galilee afterwards is an intrinsic part of the Christmas narrative. These are scenes that everyone are familiar with.
But in terms of the family it is the first reading from the Old Testament that is in my opinion one of the most relevant in this day and age:
For the LORD sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
He who honors his father atones for sins; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. He who honors his father is gladdened by children, and when he prays he is heard. He who reveres his father will live a long life; he obeys the LORD who brings comfort to his mother.
My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate with him; revile him not in the fullness of your strength. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, it will serve as a sin offering – it will take lasting root.
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Sirach also called Ecclesiasticus is one of he books removed from the Bible by most Protestants as they broke into more and more denominations so many readers might not be familiar with it but this passage shouts to the world of today.
As My Pastor Fr. Robert Bruso noted in his sermon today 48 years ago only 5% of children were born into single parent families, in 1965 while a full 40% are today and it’s become a matter of faith to suggest and insist that a family without a father (or mother) is not a big deal.
It’s not a coincidence that problems from teenage suicide to drugs and sexual issues have become problematic as the importance of fathers has decreased in society.
When you have weak, absent or part-time fathers boys age but remain boys. Strong fathers create men out of boys and society needs men.
While there are plenty of examples of single mothers or fathers who persevered in successfully raising good well-adjusted children when accident or hardship leaves no other choice, the overwhelming body of evidence suggests that the best chance for well-adjusted children is a father and a mother and that without the nuclear family children’s future are at risk.
The greatest negative example of this has been in the black community where the lack of fathers as positive role models more than anything else has devastated the inner city and the culture and the decision by other well off folk to purposely deprive a child or a father or mother is an act of narcissism turning children into just another bauble of status, a present one gives to oneself.
But while that is the largest cultural significance to this scripture doesn’t end there. reflect on this verses (emphasis mine) :
My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate with him; revile him not in the fullness of your strength.
We live in a nursing home age when the aged are forgotten ignored, occasionally trotted out on a holiday or perhaps visited for an hour as an obligation. You hear plenty of talk of allowing the old to “die with dignity” which I suggest is more about “dying” than dignity, it becomes an excuse to do little or nothing, why should the life of an old person be worth our time and expense? What do the old have to teach us?
I think we should talk more about “living with dignity”. Listening to their stories and their wisdom, because all the things you are going though in life (expect perhaps syncing your iPhone) they have done and gone through. Ask their opinion (even if you don’t use it) given them their say and the respect that their years and experience has earned. If they are physically able give them a small task. At large family events for example I would, while she lived, have my mother & her older sister dry dishes, not because we needed the help, but because that act transformed them from a quaint decoration put in place as an obligation to an active and useful part of the family unit that we all belong to.
That older sister is 92. She sill lives in the home she has for 60+ years. Her husband died a month before my father (1987) and my mother who died a year ago this month was the last of her sister & brothers. She has no children but my oldest sister is there on a regular basis helping with meals and taking her shopping. While this does not involve a father it’s the model of exactly what this passage is talking about.
Family remains important at both the start and the end of life. Thanks to our defeats in the culture war we as a society have forgotten this fact and it has cost us dearly.
and THAT is why the culture wars need to be fought.
Simply put: Boys need fathers to learn how to become men. And too many of them don’t have one.
The social cost of this is not just the obvious burden from spiraling welfare and prison populations — a 2008 study estimated that family fragmentation cost taxpayers more than $112 billion a year — but in the lost potential as well.
What to do? The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that one exists.