Charity Begins At Home

We have witnessed the overwhelming tribute given to Secretary Jesse Robredo upon his death. Personally, I didn’t know him when he was still alive. When the news about his death became front page stuff, I tried to dig deeper and realized how exemplary he was. I also felt a sense of loss. Sayang! He could have done more. He was more appreciated in death than when he was still alive. It happens many times. One man’s sacrifice is only highlighted when he is gone. And then we learn to value his legacy and contribution. This only proves that people are still receptive to nobility of spirit. People recognize genuine goodness and empowering example.
People spoke of Robredo’s transparency, integrity and clean leadership. I learned that he was 2000 Ramon Magsaysay awardee. He was a world-class leader yet he had the uncommon simplicity of not throwing his weight around.  He would ride public transportation alone without bodyguards. No task was too trivial for him whether  it was to drive around the city at night, as Mayor of Naga, to inspect busted lamp post or  play basketball with the young people in the “cantos.” But what amazed me about him was his impact at home. He gave life to the saying “charity begins at home” I see this in his strong influence to his daughters in modeling virtues which they caught in their most natural environment. Home was their first school of values and social living. Secretary Jesse Robredo taught his children the importance of doing good and practicing sincere love. This brings to mind the importance of the family and formation of children at home.
John Paul II was the pope who wrote and taught extensively about the family. He pointed out the importance of the family, defended it from the growing threats and forces trying to destroy and deform it. Three years after becoming Pope, he promulgated his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern world) in 1981. In it he addressed comprehensively issues most affecting the family. He proposed a counter-cultural perspective by presenting God’s design for marriage and the family. He analyzed our contemporary problems as emanating from a society which is sick and is creating profound distorted view of man. The root of all these attitudes lies in promotion of a “freedom without responsibilities.” Exaggerated individualism characterizes modernity, focusing on the person isolated from every collective entity, including the family. This led to societal breakdown because every other institution must bow before the insatiable claims of the individual.
Instead, he saw the family as the hope and solution to this sickness. “The history of mankind,” writes John Paul II, “the history of salvation, passes by way of the family.” Hence without strong families as its foundation, society will gradually disintegrate. If families can be put in order, the fabric of society will be very much strengthened. The way to revitalize society then, is through the family.
The family is the natural habitat where children are raised and formed as human beings. The role of the parents, aside from transmitting life, is also to educate their children. In this human formation it is necessary that children experience and feel they are loved in such a way that it brings out the best in them. Since the family is also a “domestic church,” parents are also catechists – the first teachers of the faith. It is their primary task to evangelize their children so that they learn human and social virtues that can make them responsible members of society. Parental role necessitates that they instill in them a moral character and inner spirituality that would prepare them to deal with life. More than teaching, they are to model the values themselves. It is also in this area Secretary Robredo was unforgettable. He valued family first.
The human and Christian formation of children makes the family a valuable environment. It becomes a charismatic experience for children – a place for them to find God and value people. And through the loving care of parents they will realize that love is the fundamental vocation of every human person. 
(This article appears in the Faith Section of Cebu Daily News – September 02, 2012)
Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.

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