Reading: Exodus 20:12
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you!
Reflection: The fifth commandment is unique in that it requires both parents, father, and mother, to be equally honored. Interestingly, the father and mother are singled out as objects of special recognition and honor. This goes against not only the patriarchal culture of that time, but also a modern culture that puts strong, successful, victorious, powerful, heroic, and mostly male leaders on a pedestal, not mom and dad.
Often, we take the most important and valuable things in life for granted and do not pay them enough attention. When was the last time, for example, that we stopped and thanked God for the gift of life, the beats of our hearts, each inhale and exhale? When have we gratefully paused and thanked Him for the senses with which we marvel at the world around us, for the light given by the sun, moon, and stars, for the food that powers our bodies with energy? Similarly, this is the case with the role of parents in our lives. Those who brought us into this world – who stayed up during sleepless nights, took us to the doctor and nursed us during illness, taught us our first steps, words, and letters, bathed and clothed us, and so much more that I do not have room to list – we regularly take for granted.
But what about those who do not have a good experience with their parents? What about those who have been deeply hurt by them? We must be realistic and acknowledge that not all of us have the same experience with our parents. However, the commandment teaches us that we should honor our parents regardless of whether they are worthy of honor or not. How can we solve this problem? Professor and bioethicist of Jewish origin Leon Kass says that: “A person can love and admire someone without giving them honor, and vice versa, can give someone honor without love or admiration. Thus, for Israelites, the duty to honor parents remains binding even if love is absent.”
How can we honor our parents? Let us not hesitate, because God rewards those who honor their parents.
Prayer: Father, thank you for my parents. They were an instrument in Your hands for me to come into this world. Bless them with abundant blessings from Your treasury. As I understand that they, like me, are human with their flaws and shortcomings, I forgive them for the hurts they have caused me in life. (If it is difficult for you to forgive your parents for the pain they have caused you, pray to God to give you the strength to do so over time).
Translated from the Bosnian language (mostly) by ChatGPT Feb 13 Version