Looking at Family

Friday of the First Week in Lent

If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Matthew 5: 20-26

Today’s reading is about anger – especially anger in families. The discourse Jesus gives to his listeners clarifies the more ancient counsel given to Moses and his people, “You must love your neighbor as yourself. 

This “Golden Rule” is found in most religious traditions: Hindus say “Do not to others which if done to you would cause you pain”; the Buddhist tradition says, “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.” Treating each other with kindness is a common thread throughout humanity’ s spiritual teachings.

Jesus takes it from a general, abstract teaching to a more personal level when he says, “If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go first to be reconciled with your brother…” Very specifically, he teaches that a spiritual focus must begin with your family.

I especially like what Mother Teresa once said when asked how to bring peace to the world. “Take care to have a good family life. The anger with your mother and father, with your sisters and brothers is at the root of so much trouble.”

Now there’s a clear and simple answer. Make peace in the family.

Perhaps today is a good day to reflect on your family. Are there steps you need to take to establish peace, especially within yourself, regarding family members? An old saying is, “we choose our friends but not our family.”

Maybe there’s a reason for that. Maybe it’s within the family unit that we face the most challenges regarding peace and forgiveness – and maybe there’s no maybe to that.

Perhaps a good question for today is why do we have the family we have? What does that family unit teach us? And where do we need to grow in our relations with that family?

6 thoughts on “Looking at Family

  1. Yet another ‘aha’ moment from Janet!
    As I also struggle to keep my Lenten commitment, to judge less and discern more, the Family is often the most difficult place to keep that promise.
    As Nat King Cole sang, “You always hurt the one you love; the one you shouldn’t hurt at all.” Not that we “should” hurt anyone for that matter!
    This year, my family is quite diligently working to improve our communication skills and reduce our manipulation talents. And, thanks be to God, it sees to be working.
    At least for this week.

  2. Very timely!

    Having trouble keeping up with the Lenten laughter rather than worry commitment, and struggling with the making peace with the brother deal in light of Mom’s foot infection, our cat’s seizures, daughter moving next week, job stuff, etc.

    It seems last week’s earthquake signaled the beginning of some challenging times, though i certainly can’t compare my personal challenges with those of people dealing with a real-life tsunami and nuclear crisis. It seems that when the pressure gets turned up (and up, again), making peace with our brothers and sisters requires a significant energy and focus shift.

    I’m thinking giving up chocolate sounds like a better plan.

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