Third Sunday of Lent - Divided Kingdoms

Source: District of Asia

I grasp the opportunity provided by the text to say something this morning about the kingdom most of us are interested in the little kingdom that is our home, where the mother is queen, the father king, and the four walls the boundaries. If all goes well within the family, if peace and order reign, then it indicates a hopeful future for any nation or society. If, on the other hand, things are not going well in the home and with family, if trouble and dissensions are the order of the day, it augurs ill for society, and that family had better do something quick to change itself, or it is doomed to desolation.

In these days of reconstruction, when we are faced with so many problems, the average person is bewildered. He asks himself first: "What can I do about it?" Then after he has thrown up his hands as a signal of helplessness, he asks a second question: "Where can I begin?" The answer to the second question is: "Begin at home." See what you as an individual can do to help improve your home and family life. If you are successful in doing that, then see where it leads you.

Our Crumbling Homes

Surely home life is not what it used to be. Certainly, it is not what it ought to be. We are witnessing today on all sides the crumbling of the home and the decay of family life. Some reasons for this breakdown are beyond our control. We are short, desperately short, of homes. Proportionately, we are as short as some of the bombed out nations. The result is that millions live doubled up, with all the devastating troubles which come from living doubled up. An emergency exists, but the average person can do little about it. We can, however, keep crying out loud every chance we get, and perhaps our prolonged pleading and wailing, if loud enough, will force the powers that be to do something about it. It is hard to think of any problem on the home front that is more important right now than to provide homes for the people. As I freely admit the difficulty of the problem, let us direct our attention this morning to some things within the home about which we can do something.

Begin with the problem of easy divorce and separation. Can we do anything about that? Is there not something we can do to stop the tide that threatens to destroy the very foundations of home and married life? Divorce and separation means divided kingdoms. It means neglected children. Truly, the saddest thing in the world today is the growing army of  little tots thrown out into the world-innocent victims of selfish and worldly parents who have little sense of decency or responsibility. What about the quarrelling and bickering that disrupt so many homes? Can't we do something about that?

Tragedy of Absenteeism

What about absenteeism? By that I mean this running out of the home on the slightest provocation-leaving the house more or less deserted, treating the home as you would a small room in some undesirable hotel. We can do something about that. What about petty jealousies that creep into family life? If they are not nipped in the bud, they can play havoc. Then there is the general lack of good will, friendliness, a spirit of give and take; that would divide the members of any household. Can't we do something about that? Here are many things with which we should be concerned. It is such attacks from within the home that bring about disruption and eventual collapse of home and family. If termites were discovered in your house, you would pretty soon get busy to exterminate them. Can you not do something to put a stop to some of these abuses which are just as pernicious? Now don't be too quick to say that you can't. You can!

A home is not a house in which people eat and sleep. A home is a place in which God-fearing parents bring up children to love, revere, and serve Almighty God. One of the most obvious things lacking in homes today is discipline. The greatest need in any country at any time is good citizens. Where do we get them? From whence do they come? They come from homes where they were taught discipline. Parental discipline, more than anything else, is responsible for stalwart, honest, decent citizens. The obedience demanded by parents turns out children who have been brought up to be God-fearing and law-abiding. Nothing can take the place of that-nothing.

Origin of Juvenile Delinquency

Now, if such discipline is relaxed and today's children are allowed to grow up without it, then what can we expect? Juvenile delinquency continues to be one of the most pressing social problems, but it is now agreed that juvenile delinquency has settled itself into a parental problem. Wardens of our prisons, rescue workers, and probation officers all testify that the "cases" under their care are, in a large measure, products of problem or broken homes. Too many parents have neglected their job; too many parents look on parenthood as a part-time job. Children are freer from discipline today than they have ever been. All you have to do is to look at the children that fill our theaters, crowd our streets and public places at night-sometimes until all hours of the night when they ought to be at home in bed. From whence do they come? Unquestionably, from undisciplined homes.

An old colored woman once said to me: "Father, there's nothing wrong with dem children, they just weren't riz right." That's about the size of it. For in many instances the reason why children behave themselves as they do, is because they have not received the proper training, discipline, and example from their parents. Parents cannot look for respect and obedience from their bewildering offspring unless they show themselves worthy of it by the example of their own lives.

Discipline Inseparable from Religion

You will never have discipline in the home unless you have religion in the home. When religion is taken out of the house, then you begin to see the home and family go to pieces. God created the family before He created the Church. Long years before the Church came into existence, God had been leading man to Himself through the ways of love and the family. It was in the family that man learned the dependence of the weak upon the strong, and the self-sacrificing love of the strong for the weak. The Christian life grows out of family life. The first step of the child in learning to trust God is having the experience of trusting his father and mother, and not having that trust disappointed. The child who has not known the harmony of a good home will find it difficult to love God and His Church. If the family life is not Christian, if it is not the training school of the child, then the Church can do little more than give a Christian veneer to the child's life. If the child is brought up properly, it goes without saying that the Church can do a great deal.

How many of our bickering husbands and wives ever tried the experiment of applying a little religion to their daily problems? Religion will not take the place of poor cooking or remove the peculiarities of an ingrained disposition, but it will do wonders towards helping a couple to bear each other's burdens. Religion has changed people from selfishness to unselfishness, from cowardice to courage, from despair to hope, from vulgarity to decency, from barrenness of life to fruitfulness. What it has done in every other field of human endeavor, it can do in the home if only given an opportunity or a fair test.

Spirit of the World Fatal to Family Life

The spirit of the world has played havoc with the home. The automobile whisks the family away. The neighborhood movie brings Hollywood to the front door. The radio brings the world into the living room. The magazine and newspaper supersede all serious reading. The walls of the house have been stripped of all religious pictures and images, including the crucifix. Family prayers are a thing of the past. There are countless homes you could enter right now, spend a month, and never be reminded in all that time that the occupants were Christian. Such living is getting us nowhere. Such living has resulted in countless divided kingdoms, doomed to desolation.

Let us repair spiritually. Put back the Cross where it belongs. In place of the petunia or the scottie, place a picture of Our Blessed Lady, or of dear Saint Joseph. Let the whole family live together and pray together as Christians. This is spiritual reconstruction.

Give God priority in your home and family life, and then you will begin to see a big difference.