We all have photos of our family. Usually everyone is happy and smiling. But we all know that our family is made up of flawed human beings who don’t always love each other the way they should; but they’re still our family, and we love every one of them dearly, even though some of them may rub us up the wrong way.
I think I can safely say that no human being has had a trouble-free upbringing in the home of perfect parents. Every one of our parents has had irritable days, makes unwise decisions, and misunderstands some of the things their children do. Some parents have more serious unresolved issues that lead them to neglect or abuse their children, with devastating effects.
It’s also true that no parent has perfect children. No matter how diligently parents pray for their children and try to teach them to know God and to do what is right and just, each child is equipped with free will. Each child is different, and they may choose to move in directions that are hard for parents and other adults to understand.
That’s the bad news. But the good news is that God doesn’t just deposit us in families and leave us there. He also cares for each of us and provides us with the grace we need to embrace him and his will. It’s this point that the prophet Ezekiel explains in the first reading. God doesn’t hold us responsible for our parents’ mistakes. Rather he makes it possible for us to move beyond them and develop loving relationships with him and with the people around us. Neither does God blame parents for their children’s poor choices. Rather, he invites parents to continue loving them, encouraging them, and praying for them.
So we shouldn’t get stuck in the past. Instead of blaming our parents, or our children, we should love them; we should accept responsibility for our own past choices, and pray for the grace to make future choices that please God. And then we should leave the rest in his more than capable hands.