A troublesome past
I know very well that this holiday has nothing to do with Christianity. It dates from 1906 and was reactivated by the Vichy regime to exalt the mothers of large families, pillars of the Nation. But, despite this heavy past, if this celebration continues, it is because it corresponds to a deep need. Beyond this slightly pagan and sexist side, this can be an opportunity to reflect on this old commandment: “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged on the land that God gives you. (Exodus 20.12)
The commandment of God is a word of life
Nowadays, when we hear the word “command”, we spontaneously think of orders given and received, prohibitions, law and morality.
But our Jewish brothers prefer to speak of the “Ten Words” rather than the “Ten Commandments” because what we call the commandment is a Word of God addressed to us for our betterment and that of the other.
Love is not an obligation
As the great American child psychiatrist Bruno Bettelheim says, this “commandment” is one of those that best describes the relationship between parents and their children. Because despite everything that we can hear, read, or think about the harshness of our world, we live in a very sentimental society. Thus we tend to interpret the command “honor your father and your mother” as “you MUST love your father and your mother” because love is one of the reference values of our society. “Love” must therefore reign in family relations.
Give weight to life
Yet the commandment says: “honor” and not “love”. In the biblical language, the verb to honor does not mean to love.
“To honor” in Hebrew means “to give weight”. To give weight is to give importance and respect.
And I believe that this verb “to honor”, “to give weight”, is an opening, a possibility of living our life. Because honoring your father and mother allows you to consider them for what they have best and also allows you to take a certain distance from them. Because, sometimes, the family can become a place of confinement and suffocation.
Take charge of your life
“Honoring your father and mother” allows you to distance yourself and live your own life independently and not reproduce the model in which you have lived.
But the word of God opens us up to life, without denying the past or setting aside those to whom we owe life, but it gives them their rightful place, that of honor and respect.
I would like to conclude this little reflection with this prayer from Charles Singer:
Through you I came into the world. You opened my eyes to the buttercups of the stars and the leaves of the trees quivering like butterflies to the music of the wind. You taught me beauty, my mother! […] You taught me to love, mother, and only then was I truly born. You taught me God who is love. And the first church, the first tabernacle where I contemplated the tenderness of God, was your face, my mother! »