Sunday, February 20, 2011
Thinking about Families
Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you."You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:38-48
The thing about families is that we all have a common story, some similar traits and a great need to find ways to blame. I spent the evening last night with my mother, husband and nephew from Canada retelling family stories. One kid or another was always to blame for some hysterical tale, which we all know, was not funny at the time. We love to laugh at silly mistakes and embarrassments and love to repeat and inflate the stories. The danger among relatives is when we lose perspective and forget the sensitive kid, the awkward teen, the stumbling parent is still among us, whether in flesh or memory. When we lose sight of holding each other tenderly, we lose sight of the fragility of relationships, no matter how bound we are by blood and clan.
Jesus was very aware of how fragile human relationships were and how difficult it is to be blamed and shamed over and over again. He knew that to really love others is to take them as they re at all stages of their life and to face the honest truth of who we have become, with all our skills and warts. Jesus called his disciples, over and over again to forgiveness and servanthood, a constant posture of openness to change and growth.
Today I ask God to help me embark on the new adventures in my life with great joy and an openness to change and growth. I ask God to help me accept who I have become, accept the changes in my life and to be one who can forgive and serve with joy. May we know God this day by telling the stories of love, and tenderly caring for the most vulnerable around us – our families.