Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In yesterday's Gospel reading, Mark 7:1-13, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees because some of the disciples hadn't washed their hands prior to eating. With the disciples' oversight, the Pharisees had caught them not observing the "tradition of the elders."
Jesus responds by correctly identifying that tradition as a "tradition of men," and not a commandment of God. But even worse, he goes on to identify an example of the Pharisees hypocrisy by pointing out how they were misusing the religious vow called "Corban."
Corban was a vow in which you could dedicate your money to God. But because the money was only dedicated, and not actually give to the temple, people were making use of Corban so that they wouldn't have to use their savings to take care of their aging parents. By making this empty vow they were not only lying to God, but they were breaking the 4th Commandment to honor their fathers and mothers.
The same fathers and mothers that took care of them in their infancy, guided them through their formative years, and helped them make sense of life's deeper questions as they went through adolescence and into adulthood, were now being abandoned by their children.
I think this is still happening today. While adults aren't taking advantage of loop holes in religious vows to get out of taking care of their aging parents, simple geography presents problems when mom and dad live hundreds or thousands of miles away. And even if you live in the same town, busy schedules, the simple "inconvenience" threaten the 4th Commandment.
God blesses us with families in order that we would have a community within which we bear the burdens of this world--together. Helping aging parents is simply a part of the God-given vocation of son or daughter. Parents who abandoned helpless children are thrown into prison, and this is common sense. What should we do with adult children who abandon their helpless parents?
Thankfully, in Christ all of us have a loving heavenly Father who is never helpless. All of us are a part of a family of faith, and thankfully, sometimes that family of faith will step up and take the place of adult children who neglect their own flesh and blood.
Let us all love and honor our moms and dads. Amen.