Today’s Lenten meditation is especially relevant, given the lack of honor that seems to dominate today’s culture:
“… So that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” (John 5:23)
During his earthly life, Jesus repeatedly declared that his primary purpose was to do only what the Father wanted of him and to speak only the words that the Father gave him (John 4:34; 6:38; 8:28). His whole life was dedicated to bringing honor to his Father—to the point that on the night before he was arrested, he asked the Father to glorify him through his death only “so that your son may glorify you” (17:1).
What a model for us! How praiseworthy it is for us to love and honor one another, just as Jesus loved and honored his Father!
What we honor—what we respect, esteem, and revere—demonstrates what we value. Scripture tells us that husbands and wives should honor each other out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21-33). It tells us to honor our parents and to show respect for the elderly (Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 19:32). Children, too, are called to obey their parents, “for this is pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).
The circle of honor extends beyond family members to include our friends, our neighbors, and coworkers. It involves the unborn and the deceased, those who are weak, and those who are different from us. Ultimately, because we are all created in the image and likeness of God, every single soul on earth is deserving of our respect and consideration.
God wants us to show honor and respect not just by our words but by our actions as well. He wants us to treat other people as more important than ourselves and look to their interests above our own (Philippians 2:3-5). In short, he wants us to be like Jesus, who honors his Father so completely that he treats everyone— sinners that we all are—with the utmost respect and dignity. For he knows that when we honor the people in our lives, we also bring honor to God.
May we strive to “give honor to all, love the community, and fear God” (1 Peter 2:17).
Pray: “Lord, help us to build a culture of honor and respect in our homes, in our parishes, in our schools, and in our communities. May our lives give you glory in all things.”
Recently, I had lunch with an old friend, whose parents are also from the same generation as my own and thus share the same traditional values. Growing up, we frequently heard things from them like “I don’t care if everyone else is doing, it’s still wrong,” and “Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right”.
Not that we’re both full-grown adults,we realize that the prescient wisdom of our parents is especially relevant when applied to the dating/marriage realm. In our parents’ day, it was unheard of for couples to “live together” without the full commitment of marriage, and those who did were practically ostracized; today’s it’s as commonplace as (sadly enough) divorce, unwed motherhood (another no-no back in our parents’ time) and meaningless “hook-ups”.
Although I’ve never lived with anyone, over the years I found myself more accepting of this practice and less “rigid” (in my own wrong-thinking mind) than my mom and dad — especially after I moved to a new state and witnessed many Catholic friends opting to move in with their boyfriends. The world’s rationalizations and my own affection for these friends influenced me to the point where I started to question the values with which I was raised, those espoused by God himself in the Bible.
And when you look at the sorry state of our culture, even if you’re not a religious person, how can you refuse to acknowledge the abject breakdown of honor and respect and the devastating ramifications of the world’s exhortation, “If it feels good, do it”? Children being raised in broken homes whose parents care more about their own selfish desires and social life might beg to differ with the notion that they are” better off” with divorce than with an imperfect but intact home. Teens facing unwed pregnancies, and unborn children sacrificed on the altar of convenience in our disposable society that glorifies and accepts abortion as just another medical procedure would definitely disagree.
Please don’t misunderstand: I am in no way suggesting that abused wives or husbands should continue to stay in a marriage that poses a threat to their well-being and that of their children. There are certainly legitimate reasons for divorce. I am referring to the rampant attitude of “convenience” and “me-first” that has invaded the thought processes of too many in our overly secular society and contributes to the breakdown of marriages and families. Honor seems to be tossed aside as an outdated practice, now relegated to the small segment of “Bible-thumpers” in our culture who lack the “sophistication” to know any better.
But even if you’re a humanist who rejects the notion of God, all you have to do is look at the consequences of the breakdown of honor and respect to see that God’s way — the lifestyle taught by those who hold traditional values dear — is the right way. The older I get, the more thankful I become for having been raised by “old-fashioned” parents who still believe, in spite of what the modern world espouses, that things like honor and respect are paramount.
Something for all of us to think about.