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Holiness Does Not Mean Passivity
Getting the family back on track
“He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (Jn 2:15-17)
This sacred mission of Jesus that we read about in the Gospel of John is a familial lesson in active parenting. Jesus recognizes a deficiency in his children, one that revolves around the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. These are the values that we, as Christian parents, must enforce not only within ourselves but in our family. For when we possess these values, we are predisposed to the Holy Spirit who invokes the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love thus bearing witness to the life that is to come – a mirroring of the mission of Christ.
Many times, parents ask, “How do I know the difference between zeal and unholy anger?” Sometimes we feel lost or discouraged when there is a simultaneous onslaught of issues that range from tantrums over toys to teen angst. Children’s issues combined with personal exhaustion, from what can feel like a persecution of your own faith in your own home, can leave one needing a reset. Much like the reset button that Jesus pressed in the Temple.
When the home begins to feel like a battleground, we need to swiftly press that reset button and target those sins of selfishness with virtue. Prudence, the light which guides the way, must focus on the intellect and involve “clearing the room” for presence of mind. Justice focuses on rendering to each man what belongs to him. The temple and the law belong to the Lord, just as our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and belong to the Lord. (1 Cor. 6:19) Anything keeping the family from maintaining the holiness of their temple should be removed. Temperance governs man’s appetite, and the subsequent lesson that needs to be taught should be moderation. Finally, fortitude is following through. This task is not easy and one must retain the steadfast determination of the pursuit of the true, good, and beautiful.
In closing, we must remember that even though Jesus cleansed the Temple, fulfilling the prophecy of old, this did not eliminate original sin. Lessons will be taught and Truth will be made known, but we will still fall short. Our children will still sin. Our family and our Church will miss the mark. Yet sin did not stop Jesus from proclaiming the Truth and it must not stop us from proclaiming the Truth as well. Our job is to proclaim the faith of the Church to our families and to hope in life everlasting. We are to love our families well in a docile and familial love of service and friendship, as Christ showed in the majority of His mission on earth. And we are to have a zeal-filled love that adamantly points towards virtue and a forever future with Him. “The Christian family has a special vocation to witness to the paschal covenant of Christ by constantly radiating the joy of love and the certainty of the hope for which it must give an account: ‘The Christian family loudly proclaims both the present virtues of the Kingdom of God and the hope of a blessed life to come’.”
Copyright 2021 Kelly Ann Tallent
Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, II, q. 61, a. 2, respondeo, at New Advent, www.newadvent.org.
 Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World Familiaris consortio (22 November 1981), §52.