A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 7:1-13
When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds.) So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?" He responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition." He went on to say, "How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother, and Whoever curses father or mother shall die. Yet you say, 'If someone says to father or mother, "Any support you might have had from me is qorban"' (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things."
REFLECTION: Honor your father and your mother, and Whoever curses father or mother shall die. Yet you say, 'If someone says to father or mother, "Any support you might have had from me is qorban"' (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother."
The first duty of parents is to love their children. They love them with all their imperfections because they are children of God. We, as children, love our parents, as well, with all their imperfections.
In this Gospel, Jesus makes it clear the importance of the Fourth Commandment, Honor your Father and your Mother. The Scribes and Pharisees were notorious for adding "more" to the commandments and the Jewish tradition or they substituted their interpretation of the law to fit their arguments and their lifestyle. The Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' time made it very easy to avoid caring for their parents by saying that the support due their parents was dedicated to God and therefore allowed the Jewish people to to do nothing for their mother and father. This was not acceptable. Jesus, indeed, was upset with them and He called them out.
In Isaiah 58:7 it says ' You shall not turn away from your own family' ...
Parents are the head of the family and when they either gave birth to us or adopted us as their sons or daughters, they participated in the whole of creation and in honoring them we honor God, our Father. As our parents cared for us, it is our duty to take care of our parents. We are promised in Exodus 20:12 "a long life", Sirach 3:3-5,7 " those who honor their father they atone for sins", "they store up riches who respect their mother", "those who honor their father will have joy in their own children", "when they pray they are heard", "those who respect their father will live a long life or who obey the Lord honor their mother".
In my life, I have witnessed many people who care for their parents ...
Some have paid for their parents' place to stay, invited them to live with them, paid for their needs--food/clothing/vehicle. Some have taken time off work to care for their parents. They drive them to the doctors, hair appointments, and church. Some have quit their jobs to be 24/7 caregivers for their parents.
Then there are some who complain about having to take care of their slow parents and they are quick to let you know the sacrifices they have done in order to take care of them.
Then there are those who keep tabs of how much they do compared to their "duty dodging siblings" who come and visit and criticize.
Then there are those, like Robert's (Homeless ministry) daughter, who has never forgiven him for his drug problems and his living on the streets of Houston. She, therefore, has deliberately lost touch with him and refused to have anything to do with him.
Who has served their parents the best? Who has served lovingly? Who has listened to Jesus and with the love they are blessed with, bless their parents? God is faithful and is quite wealthy and generous with His love. God's divine Law obliges (not a suggestion but an obligation) to give help and affection to parents though it may take a great deal of sacrifice. When God asks us to do something (especially such a law as Honor your father and mother), He never asks us to decide between two good duties. --when our first duty or obligation is to our own wife/husband/children, work or religious responsibilities. He provides in these instances--
Our most imperative duty is to be sure that our parents go to confession, receive the sacraments, go to Mass and receive the Holy Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick. We pray them into heaven. After they have died, we give them a catholic funeral, have Masses said for them. God, in His goodness, will give you every opportunity to reconcile with your parents.
The prayers of parents for their children and children for their parents will find a special place in God's heart.