The Nazareth Page
A gospel thought for concerned parents and grandparents

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January 30th 2005 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matt. 5: 1-12

This Sunday we read the first section of the Sermon on the Mount. Its opening words, if heard clearly, would probably have emptied the mountainside of most of those who came to listen to Jesus. They are difficult and very challenging words. Can anyone really put them into practice?

Did Jesus really say that it’s better to be poor, better to be mourning, better to be meek and gentle? Let’s try to open ourselves to what we can do. Let’s try to be “pure of heart” and focus on what’s really important: accepting God’s love and mercy and extending these attitudes to others – and to ourselves.

The Beatitudes make us all think. To live in the spirit of Jesus is not easy. He tells us to examine eight areas of our lives. Here we’ll examine just one of these beatitudes. It relates to how we parent our children or how we relate to anyone we might have power over. Jesus said: Be merciful. The text reads, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” What does it mean for a parent to be merciful?

The dictionary says that to be merciful is “to refrain from using your power over another” or “show kindness in excess” or “be forgiving and compassionate.”  Does the opportunity for this kind of response ever occur in our role as parents?

Parents can exert a lot of power over children. They have the power that comes from experience, from often being physically larger, from having control of the family financial resources. But using power over others is not always helpful, especially over children. It can cause fear and create distance between us.

If children are to learn how to be merciful and kind, they will most likely learn it first and best from their parents.

David M. Thomas
Bethany Family Institute

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