ERRONEUS INTERPRETATION CAN BE HARMFUL
by Fr. Antony Payyapally
There are some people who twist the Word of God while speaking about ancestral curses. I have heard many people giving wrong interpretations when talking about the primeval curse mentioned in the Bible.
Some allege that sins of parents or ancestors are the cause of various misfortunes like sickness, not having children, accidents, loss of fortunes, debts, etc. Such erroneous interpretations can give rise to a lot of misunderstandings. They can be the reason for children to have an aversion for their parents. When children tell their parents that it is due to their misdeeds that their own children are not able to find life-partners or that they are not having children, imagine the grief and guilt feelings that the old parents will experience!
Once an elderly couple came to see me. The man had his chin twisted to one side. I asked them whether it was always like that. "No, Father" the wife replied, "Yesterday our darling son caught his father's neck and twisted it." Then I asked whether their son was suffering from any mental disorders. "No, Father," again she replied, "The other day he went to attend a one-day convention. Ever since he came back from there he hates his father's sight. Whenever they happen to face each other, the son threatens the father and abuses him." Since their house was not far away I sent for the son and during the conversation casually asked him why he had beaten his father. Immediately he flared up and replied that the old man should not only be thrashed but must be killed. Then he took off his shirt and showed me his body disfigured by the skin disease known as psoriasis. Only his face was not affected.
"For the past twelve years," he said, "I am putting up with this. I have gone to every hospital and have taken all kinds of medicines, but to no effect. I did not know how it came about, but recently I attended a retreat. The retreat preacher told us that God would punish up till the fourth and fifth generations for the curses incurred by the ancestors. I went to him for counseling and after praying he told me that my sickness was the result of the sins of my father's father. When I came to know that my grandfather is the cause of my ailment I felt bitter against my father too. I was so angry that when I reached home seeing my father sitting in the verandah I said to myself, 'His father is dead but he is here and let him pay for it,' so I gave him a tight one."
I corrected the wrong notions that he had acquired. I showed him the context in the Bible where we read; "I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendents down to the third and fourth generation" (Exodus 20:5). God seeing the iniquity and hard-heartedness of the Israelites said this so that they might not be lost and to teach them the seriousness of their sins. Later when Jesus came He gave us a clear answer when seeing a blind man the disciple asked Him, "Teacher, whose sins caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents' sin?" Jesus answered, "His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parent's sins. He is blind so that God's power might be seen at work in him" (Jn. 9:2-3).
In the Book of Ezekiel we read, "What is this proverb people keep repeating in the land of Israel? 'The parents ate the sour grapes, but the children got the sour taste.' As surely as I am the living God, says the sovereign Lord, You will not repeat this proverb in Israel anymore. The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die" (18:1-4). If the father eats sour grapes the son will not get the sour taste, only the father will get it. Everyone's life is in God's hands. "Parents are not to be put to death for crimes committed by their children, and children are not to be put to death for crimes committed by their parents; a person is to be put to death only for a crime he himself has committed"(2 Kings 14:6).
"You know what was paid to set you free from the worthless manner of life handed down by your ancestors. It was not something that can be destroyed, such as silver or gold. It was the costly sacrifice of Christ, who was like a lamb without defect or flaw"(1 Peter 1:18-19). In order to take away the sin of the whole world God gave us a lamb, His own son(Jn.1:29). This Lamb that was sent to take away the sin of the whole human race was sacrificed on the cross on Calvary. For our sake, due to our sins, Christ became accursed. Therefore, we should not put blame on our ancestors or our parents for the cause of our sicknesses, or debts or having no children. I said all this to that son who stood before me with tears in his eyes. "Your illness is in the plan of God," I told him.
Before my very eyes he fell at his father's feet and begged for pardon. Three or four weeks later the father, the mother and the son together came to see me. He took off his shirt before me; he was completely healed of his skin disease. Thanks be to God!
[Source: Divinedelhi.org website; Please visit this beautiful website from India.]