Today’s Gospel account is about two disciples dejectedly journeying from Jerusalem to a nearby hamlet called Emmaus and then Jesus appeared among them unrecognized. Thus they requested ‘stay with us Lord’ and it was only when Jesus listened to that humble request that his disciples recognized him as the Christ and Messiah (Saviour). The disciples’ invitation and request to the stranger they have met on the road had rich overtones of meaning. And in a larger context, it points toward the Eucharistic mystery, where Jesus indeed continues to stay with us.And as they sat at table, the stranger becomes the host and Master. He takes the bread, says the blessing, breaks it and distributes it to them.
For the early Church, this pointed clearly to their own Eucharistic celebrations. I suppose its most pertinent today to reflect on the request of the above mentioned boy to his father, ‘stay with us dad’. Since the Christian family constitutes a specific realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church. It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament (Eph. 5:21-6:4; Col 3:18-21)Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honour God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society (C.C.C. 2207).
The common question these days is, ‘why is it that children of nowadays quite unlike the olden days no longer listen to their parents as if they have no ears on their heads but rather developing tails on their buttocks’. I come to ask myself when do these tails and stubbornness begin to grow; from the womb? Certainly no! How come then that parents don’t see it in the process of growing rather they see it when it’s fully grown and begin to complain? Also, why is it that many families no longer experience that homeliness that the family is characteristically known? Why have families today become war grounds where brothers and sister, fathers and mothers draw the sword against the other? What is actually responsible for this mess? What is the role of the fathers when the situation gets to this point? A question for all and a course for REFLECTION!
The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. Always remember that this course has a place in marriage promises during the sacrament of matrimony. The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute. Thus ‘PRINCIPLE OF DOUBLE NON SUBSTITUTE’ in the family for both the action of education and the performer, parents’. The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable. Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is also well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.
Many a times, parents see their responsibility to their children as merely a financial commitment that begins and ends with feeding, shelter, protection and formal education. Most fathers can’t imagine that they have other functions beyond these. When we complain the society is the way it is today because parents have failed in their duty most fathers mod their head in pity for those parents who don’t provide the common functions already mentioned forgetting that child upbringing is much more than the mentioned functions of the parents. Hence there is urgent need to pay attention to the various aspects of fatherly availability in the family.
The practicality of these values afore mentioned are realizable through quality-shared time in the family. A Christian family remains tepid and unproductive if the parents do not spend quality time with the family; staying with the family, and having a meaningful presence in the family-A Christological Incarnation Model and continually achieved by the Holy spirit from both the Father and the Son when the Son Ascended to Heaven (God’ desire to stay with us till the end of time). Quality time here implies a good attitudinal disposition towards the family-eating together, praying together, going on picnic together, It is a situation where the father of the house is attitudinally disposed to hear the heart beat of his wife and children. Hearing their smiles even when they aren’t present and hearing their cries even from a distance. It is a situation whereby there exists the power of telepathy among the family members. This is only possible when there is affinity among the members. When this is achieved; with time husband and wife begin to grow from emotional affinity to phenomenological semblance.When from the oral and anal stages a child is recklessly scolded for every little thing and condemned as a never do well, certainly the same child grows never trusting himself and afraid of everything and everybody. Experts in developmental psychology have proved that when the husband and wife scold each other and fight before the children at their early ages, the children grow to take sides according to whom they have found love; father or mother. Hence if they find love with the father then each time such quarrels begin the child feels the mother is so disrespectful and wicked to the father not minding the cause of the quarrels and vise versa. Hence the child begins to unconsciously grow with some bits of doubt of love on the mother such that the only way to express this unconscious feeling is early stubbornness to the mother as a means of revolution and revenge. Unfortunately the child is not consciously aware of whats happening to him or her. The child in the absence of the beloved feels insecure in the house and unsafe longing the return of the beloved. The same is also the case in families where the mother feels, may be because she has greener pastures and income earning she has become the bread winner of the family. When this situation makes her complain so much in the house, the children feel so unsafe, unloved and unrelaxed in the house that they begin to see themselves as burdens to the parents and would dream of the day they would be out of their slave camp (their family). The children would become unnecessarily aggressive at every little provocation because he/she has not been schooled in commitment or patience.
When children are discouraged by loquacious parents who would always scold then even when not necessary (Eph. 6;1-4; Sirach 3), who don’t appreciate them for any good thing done; they already begin to develop inferiority complex. This is because the ego is already beaten down by the parents who are supposed to be the first to lift the child’s ego. They would also live to be complainants in everything and most times inpatient and intolerant to others. When parents are drunks, certainly the children are already placed as second class in the society. This is because they begin to lack the moral courage of association lest they are regarded as children of drunks even to air their view among their peer would be a challenge for fear of being reminded their background. Excerpt by God’s grace, this affects even the company the children keep, marriage e.t.c; second class citizens. In themselves they are already disadvantaged in the society. Its unfortunate also these days that parents have more time taking their children to cinema and dance clubs but don’t have time to take them for catechism classes.
To learn from Jesus we must first admit our ignorance, to be healed we must first acknowledge our sickness, to be forgiven we must confess our sins. Let us ask the Lord to stay with us today and always to teach us to stay with our families.