Honoring and Hating Ones Parents

My name is Mark. I have been reading your pages, and I'm a little confused about the response Jesus gives to the rich young man on the Moral Law page. Jesus replies: ..."Honor your father and mother". Is this the same Jesus who said:

Matthew 10:35-36 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple

Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. These are just 3 of the many disturbing Jesus passages I have uncovered in my quest to better understand the man. Can you offer any insight? If I attempted to ask this question to anyone I know...I would most likely be "dis-owned"




Dear Mark,

Excellent question. It just arrived as I was answering some email. I will need some time to think about it. To the quotes you mention, one could also add Jesus' apparent "put-downs" to his own mother. But like I say, please allow me some time. Meanwhile if you have reflections on this puzzle, please feel free to send them.

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom


Fr Bloom,

Thanks for the fast response. Take all the time you like. I'm glad you weren't offended by my email...it wasn't my intention. I've been reading everything about religion that I can get my hands on.

Thanks again for responding,



Dear Mark,

I hope you had a good Christmas. It has been almost a month since you sent your excellent question. I have been thinking about it, but especially these days before the Feast of the Holy Family. You no doubt have come up with insights of your own during these weeks.

The troubling quotes in your letter (plus the one I added) need to be balanced by others. For example Jesus' words to those who evaded responsibility to parents:

Matthew 15:4-5: For God said, `Honor your father and mother' and `Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, `Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,'

St. Paul also reaffirms the commandment to honor ones parents:

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise--"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."

And of course Jesus gave a personal example of obedience to his mother and guardian:

Luke 2:51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.

As you note, such filial obedience contrasts with what seems like a call to familial insurrection? Two things need to be considered. First what the Catechism says: "Family ties are important but not absolute." (#2232) Below I have a lengthy quote from the Catechism which I hope you will find helpful.

But more important is the person of Jesus. His words about setting children against parents and "hating" them need to be approached like Jesus' other radical statements. (E.g. that he has authority to suspend Sabbath regulations, call off fasts, forgive men's sins, etc.) They confront us with the most important question: Just who is the Jesus? I tried to describe the dilemma in a homily about Jesus "the Bridegroom" /bridegroom.html

So, yes, we must place Jesus above our parents - above any natural tie or affection. Even "hate" them if they come between us and Jesus. Why? Because if (and only if) Jesus comes first, will we be able to rightly love each person, including our parents.

I know this does not solve the practical dilemma, but I hope it gives you some points for your own reflection, Mark.

Have a Blessed New Year 2001.

Fr. Phil Bloom

From Catechism http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/fourth.html#FOURTH

The duties of children

2214 The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood;[16] this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents. The respect of children, whether minors or adults, for their father and mother[17] is nourished by the natural affection born of the bond uniting them. It is required by God's commandment.[18]

2215 Respect for parents (filial piety) derives from gratitude toward those who, by the gift of life, their love and their work, have brought their children into the world and enabled them to grow in stature, wisdom, and grace. "With all your heart honor your father, and do not forget the birth pangs of your mother. Remember that through your parents you were born; what can you give back to them that equals their gift to you?"[19]

2216 Filial respect is shown by true docility and obedience. "My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching.... When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you."[20] "A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke."[21]

2217 As long as a child lives at home with his parents, the child should obey his parents in all that they ask of him when it is for his good or that of the family. "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."[22] Children should also obey the reasonable directions of their teachers and all to whom their parents have entrusted them. But if a child is convinced in conscience that it would be morally wrong to obey a particular order, he must not do so. As they grow up, children should continue to respect their parents. They should anticipate their wishes, willingly seek their advice, and accept their just admonitions. Obedience toward parents ceases with the emancipation of the children; not so respect, which is always owed to them. This respect has its roots in the fear of God, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

2232 Family ties are important but not absolute. Just as the child grows to maturity and human and spiritual autonomy, so his unique vocation which comes from God asserts itself more clearly and forcefully. Parents should respect this call and encourage their children to follow it. They must be convinced that the first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus: "He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."[39]


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