Family – a Battle Ground or a Sweet and Safe Home Base?

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

2 Kings 4:8-11,14-16A

One day Elisha came to Shunem, where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine. So she said to her husband, "I know that Elisha is a holy man of God. Since he visits us often, let us arrange a little room on the roof and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp, so that when he comes to us he can stay there." Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight. Later Elisha asked, "Can something be done for her?" His servant Gehazi answered, "Yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years." Elisha said, "Call her." When the woman had been called and stood at the door, Elisha promised, "This time next year you will be fondling a baby son."

Romans 6:3-4, 8-11

Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 10:37-42

Jesus said to his apostles: "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. "Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple— amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward."

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me…” (Mt 10:37).

“We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that…we too might live in newness of life” (Rom 6:4).

If there’s a common thread that connects the above statements from this Sunday’s gospel and second reading, it is the severity of what each demands of us – one seeking the subordination of family relationships to those in God’s Family, the other commanding in us a complete rebirth of self.

As years go by and my relationship with God continues to deepen, it has become more and more obvious – sometimes painfully obvious – to me that the way I live and the values I seek are becoming more and more difficult to fathom, to put it mildly, for many members of my biological family. It isn’t that our relationships have turned sour or adversarial because of my Catholic beliefs. Far from it. If anything, we are only getting closer as we age, sharing a deeper and deeper appreciation of our unique family bond. In fact, for many of them, my determination to live a life with meaning and purpose is something that commands their respect, even if such meaning and purpose are things they cannot relate to or share completely. But there is no denying that our different religious beliefs, or lack of it for some, are causing us to approach life and see things in very different ways.

Growing up from an oriental, patriarchal culture where traditional Confucius family values are dominant and the parent-child relationship of sacred and supreme importance, it’s hard for some family members to understand my Christian disposition that sees my relationship with God as central and all-encompassing. My parents, to whom I’m forever indebted, had always respected my religious beliefs and continued to love me even if such beliefs and theirs did not always jive. Still, looking back so many years later after their departures from this world, I must admit that their respect and love for me were not without some regrets – regrets that somehow some things were less than ideal in our relationship because certain values and expectations of ours were different.

St. John Paul II said, “The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family” (Letter to Families, n.23). Family is in many ways a “training camp” where we learn to iron out our differences with love and tolerance so that we are better prepared to live in love in the heavenly Family of God, the Father. Sometimes the “training process” has become so rough and rigorous that our family may even begin to look more like a battle ground filled with “shell-shocked and injured soldiers” than a sweet and safe home base as it should be. But persist we must where God’s revealed truths and values are at stake, knowing that the willingness of all family members to submit themselves to God’s guidance will somehow bring understanding, respect, and love powerful enough to overcome all conflicts and differences. Let’s “battle on” as family members – with love; persist in our family way – in faith; and look forward to joining God’s Family in heaven one day – out of hope.

Posted: July 2, 2017

Edmond Lo

As a Catholic speaker, writer and RCIA Catechist, Edmond is very active in promoting and defending the Catholic faith. He has a MBA, a CPA-CMA, and a MTS (Master of Theological Studies) from U.T., St. Augustine's Seminary. Having worked many years as the CFO of a non-profit organization, he retired at 55 to follow his special vocation of evangelization. The activities he conducts include the CMCC Bible Study Program, the Catechism Revisited Program, the FLL Spiritual Formation Program, Living in the Holy Tradition, RCIA, family groups and retreats, etc. Edmond is a member of the FLL Core Team. He writes Sunday Mass reflections regularly for the weekly FLL NewSpiration. His personal blog:

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