by Tom Fairman
As a parent, you often wonder what the future holds for your children. What are they going to be interested in? What mistakes are they going to make? Will they be happy? Where will they end up living? Who will they marry? Will they have children of their own? Will they have the same relationship with you as you have with your parents? Underlying these questions is an assumption or indeed a hope that you will see them grow up and that you will still be an important part of their life. You will never stop caring for them, but the relationship must change.
Having seen them grow up, make mistakes and known them inside out from a young age, there is a natural separation that must occur to allow them to become an adult. This can be a painful time and many of these wounds live with us for the rest of our lives. However, you can never change the fact that they are your child and you are their parent, no matter how distant you may feel from them. Your family is your family and always will be.
It is your history, your link to the past. It can explain character traits we have, how often do we hear people say we are just like our parents. Looking back into our past can be a fascinating experience, discovering the hidden stories and decisions that have lead us to be here today. As a society we have lost this love of history seeming destined to disassociate ourselves with previous generations, blaming them for the problems of today. Our generational history clearly mattered to St Matthew who takes the time to set out the genealogy of Jesus at the start of his gospel and our relationship with our parents mattered to Jesus.
The Catholic church holds a special regard for Mary, Jesus’ mother. In the month of May, we are called to remember her and to meditate on her relationship with Jesus. After the death of Joseph, Jesus would have been expected to look after his mother and they must have had a special relationship before He started His ministry. She would have seen Him grow, shared in His joys and sorrows and talked to Him whilst holding in her heart the promises from the Magi about His future.
The wedding feast at Canaan provides a wonderful insight into their relationship. When the wine had run out, the servants knowing Jesus was there, went to Mary to ask Him to do something. She obliges and intercedes with Him on their behalf. He tells her, probably with a familiar sigh, that His time has not yet come and so she tells the servants to do whatever He says. She knows He will do what His mother asks, but also knows the game that has to be played out whenever a mother asks their child to do anything! He eventually turns the water to wine and the party continues, but the inference is this; Jesus loves His mother and listens to her. The Catholic church therefore encourages us to ask Mary to pray for us as someone who has Jesus’ ear.
During the rest of His ministry, she is there and at the foot of the cross, she is there. Jesus asks John to care for her as He can not now and fulfils His final act of earthly love for His mother, caring for her needs, never disowning her. She would have seen Him die as no parent wishes to do. During this Easter period, I imagine Jesus came back individually to Mary to say a proper goodbye and let her tell Him how proud she was of Him, that the pain of seeing her child die had a positive outcome in the end. Mary had a special place in Jesus’ heart and she should in ours too as should our own parents.
The prophet Malachi prophesies that Jesus would come to turn the hearts of parents back to their children and children to their parents. It is relationship that can be restored no matter how much hurt is there as it is a bond that can never be broken.