The loving fulfillment of the Fourth Commandment is most firmly rooted in the sense of our divine sonship. The only one who can be considered Father in all his fullness is God, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is derived. Our fathers, in begetting us, participated in that fatherhood of God which extends to all creation. In them we see a reflection of the Creator, and in loving and honoring them rightly, in them we are also honoring and loving God himself, as Father.
In the liturgical season of Christmas we have contemplated the Holy Family -Jesus, Mary and Joseph- as a model and prototype of love and spirit of service for all families. Jesus has left us the example and the doctrine that we must follow in order to fulfill as God wishes the sweet precept of the Fourth Commandment. Above all, Jesus reaffirmed that love for God has absolute rights, and to it all human loves must be subordinated: Whoever loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Therefore, it is contrary to the will of God, and, consequently, it is not true love, the disordered attachment to one's own family, which becomes an obstacle to fulfill the will of God: And Jesus said to him: Leave the dead to bury their own dead; go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.
Jesus left us an example of complete surrender to the will of his heavenly Father - did you not know that I must be about my Father's business? he will say to Mary and Joseph when they meet him in Jerusalem, and at the same time he is the perfect model of how we must fulfill this precept and of the esteem we must have for family ties: he lived subject to the authority of his parents, and learned his trade from St. Joseph, helping him to support the household; he performed the first of his miracles at the entreaties of his Mother; he chose from among his relatives three of his disciples; and, before dying for us on the Cross, he entrusted to John the care of his Blessed Mother; without counting the innumerable miracles he performs moved by the tears or the words of a mother or a father: the Lord is especially touched by the prayers of parents when they pray for their children.
There are many manifestations in which the Fourth Commandment becomes a reality, in which we show our honor and our love for our parents. "We honor them when we earnestly ask God that all things may happen to them prosperously and happily, that they may enjoy the esteem and respect of others, and that they may attain grace before God Himself and before the Saints who are in Heaven.
"Moreover, we honor our parents when we assist them with what is necessary for their sustenance and a dignified life, as is proved by the testimony of Christ, when he reproved the impiety of the Pharisees.... This duty is more demanding when they are sick in danger. Then every means must be taken to ensure that they do not omit confession, nor the other sacraments that Christians must receive (...).
"Finally, once they have died, parents are to be honored by taking care of their funeral rites, burials and funerals, by offering suffrages and anniversary Masses for them, and by faithfully carrying out what they have commanded in their wills. This is how the Roman Catechism expresses and summarizes it.
If, unfortunately, parents are far from the faith, the Lord will give us grace to carry out with them an apostolate full of esteem and respect, which will consist, ordinarily, in prayer and mortification for them, and in the example of a joyful, exemplary and loving filial conduct, together with the commitment to seek occasions to bring them closer to those who can speak to them about God with more authority, because children cannot become teachers of their parents on their own initiative.