Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's day

Today is father's day.  Our heavenly Father uses fathers to pass the faith to their children.  The primary job of a father is to lead his wife and his children to heaven.  How, are we, as fathers, doing?  I suspect that many of us are more worried about our children's progress in academics or athletics than their growth in holiness.  We can all be assured that when we meet Jesus on judgment day he will not ask us about how we helped them in school or in sports. 

In today's Gospel, Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God.   He explains that building the kingdom of God on earth is a divine work, not a human achievement. God brings about its growth, which at times is imperceptible. We cooperate, but we cannot control or guarantee success by our efforts any more than the farmer can harvest his grain in January. Every member of the kingdom is being made ready for the harvest by inner growth in holiness and virtue, which God brings about through our cooperation with his grace. The parable serves as an encouragement for those who think their efforts for the kingdom are fruitless and a warning for those who think they can bring about the kingdom by their own projects and programs.

In the parable of the mustard seed, this small seed becomes the largest of plants.  This seed represents our spiritual growth.  At our baptism, we have the potential for growth.  But, we need time to allow the mercy of God to exalt us, to make us grow.  Then, though the other sacraments and their associated graces, we eventually can become holy men and women and disciples of Christ.
This spiritual growth occurs as  a result of the love and example of strong fathers.  I know that you may be thinking that the mother provides a strong example of faith to the children.  But, statistics have shown that the faith of children tends to be as strong as that of their father.  If a father doesn't go to church, it's likely that the children will abandon their faith even if their mother has a strong faith.     
In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that it takes courage to walk by faith.  Today, when we see division all around us, fathers need faith and courage to trust God and his Church and to save their family from the ways of the world.  When fathers see confusion, they must have faith to be joyful and confident.  We are living in a time of moral and ethical confusion and of division and despair.  Fortunately, our Catholic church has answers to the questions that arise from this confusion and despair.

The confusion of our times means that fathers have more questions about their faith than ever before.  Some of these questions get articulated, but most remain unspoken.  The reason why so many remain unspoken is that some are too embarrassed to ask and others don't know who to ask.  Fathers need and deserve answers to their questions.  Fortunately, our Catholic faith has answers to these deep moral and ethical questions that lie at the heart of our confusion.   These answers come from serious consideration of these difficult issues by holy men and women who understand God's laws and Church teachings throughout the years.  They aren't just spur of the moment answers that someone came up with on a whim like we might expect from Dr Phil or Oprah.   

When it comes to Catholicism, there is a lot to know.  Ideally, we could all just accept on faith everything the Church teaches.  But, most of us want to know not just what the church teaches, but why.  And with some effort, you can find all of these answers.  You will discover that church teaching in these critical moral and ethical areas has been remarkably consistent over the years and that these teachings have been and continue to be a blessing to our society, not a burden.  

St Paul also tells us that we walk by faith not by sight.  At times, I have walked by faith in my life especially in my big decisions like getting married, having five children, and becoming a deacon.  All of these decisions have brought me peace and joy.  As a father and a grandfather, I often still tend to walk by sight and not by faith in the small, day-to-day decisions of life.  In these areas, I tend to want God to follow my will instead of trusting, in faith, that his plan is best for my family.  I'm working on this.

May fathers have a faith which is steadfast and sure even when they experience division and confusion.  May fathers see past the confusion of our times to the joy of the kingdom of God.  And may fathers walk by faith and not by sight as they strive to bring their family to the Kingdom of God in heaven. 
Blessings to all fathers