And I think I’m going to keep this pretty simple.
Here’s something that can be a shock
when you realize it the first time, but:
we turn into our parents!
My father had funny little habits.
For example, whenever we’d drive somewhere,
from time to time he’d say, “there’s a Burger King,”
or “there’s Dairy Queen.”
So I’d ask, “did you want to stop?”
“No,” he’d say. It was just something he’d do, pointing places out.
So guess what? Now I do exactly the same thing!
And I tell the exact same goofy jokes my father told!
The point being, that our parents play a huge role,
And a big part of that is showing us who God is.
So when you and I talk about God being our Father,
That will be shaped by the father we grow up with.
For some people, obviously, this can mean some real trials of faith,
because sometimes those relationships are a mess.
That can make it hard for some people to draw close to God;
So the natural question, if that’s you, is: what do I do about this?
Honestly, that’s not easy. But one thing to do is to look at Jesus.
The Son of God became human, and came among us,
precisely to show us the face of God.
Drawing close to Jesus helps us realize who God the Father is.
Another thing we can do is look around at other people in our lives.
Who has been there, steady and faithful and giving?
That person is showing you the face of the Father,
you just didn’t know it.
And a third thing we do – we all do –
is learn to be more forgiving of our parents’ flaws and limitations,
especially as we reach that stage in life.
All that said, I don’t want to emphasize the negative.
Rather, I want to stress how powerfully God’s love
works through each of us, as imperfect as we are.
That’s what each of the readings is talking about:
God was filled with a longing to create this world,
and fill it with life – us, above all;
that’s what the first reading is about.
And when humanity fell into sin and darkness,
The Father’s love did not abate, but rather overflowed;
This is why Jesus came, why Jesus died,
and why he gave us the Holy Spirit.
You and I cannot begin to comprehend
the height and breadth and depth of that love of God for each of us.
But if you are a parent, then you have a sense,
Because that’s the love you have for your own children.
They may defy you, disappoint you, drive you crazy at times,
But you never stop loving them.
Not only can you not imagine doing so,
even thinking about that is terribly painful.
That’s the love you – a flawed creature – have.
Multiply that by infinity, and that’s God’s love for each of us.
Everything I’ve said applies to both mothers and fathers.
But on this Father’s day,
I do want to say something just to men, just to fathers.
We all see how our culture denigrates fatherhood.
Boys and men are routinely labeled “toxic.”
Movies and TV depict men as threats, or else fathers as a joke.
Or else they are simply absent.
And, of course, in reality that is often true.
Before it seems I am pointing the finger elsewhere, let me say this:
Too many of our spiritual fathers – priests and bishops –
have degraded themselves and shamed the Church.
So what do we do? Again, specifically addressing the boys and men:
You are a father now, or else you hope to be.
I accepted the call to be a spiritual father,
and I am confident there are other men here
who God wants to be priests as well.
Whatever our path, what we do is we stand up and be men.
You’ve heard this before: we guard, we guide and we give.
If other men, other fathers, are dropping the ball, let’s pick it up!
Your spiritual leadership, here at Mass and at home,
play a huge role in leading your children to a healthy and lasting faith.
No guarantees, but it will give you and them every advantage.
Lead your children to Mass; lead them in prayer;
Above all, show them what true generosity, true love, looks like.
My father has been gone awhile, but his lessons are with me always;
And it will be the same for your children long decades in the future!
And if you will forgive me, I’m going to give a plug
for our annual Men’s Prayer Walk.
Every year at this time – coming up on Friday, June 28 –
all the boys and men of every age are invited to come together
to walk a couple of miles around the perimeter of our parish,
after which we have a meal and fellowship.
We’ll meet behind my house by 5:30 pm, board some hay wagons,
Ride out to the road where we’ll walk and pray, and then come back.
If you can’t walk, just ride on the hay wagon, or bring your golf cart!
Why do this? To be men; to be fathers,
who provide spiritual leadership, and spiritual protection,
for our parish. To teach our sons and grandsons.
And in all that, we show God’s face to our community.