Next week, we as a society honor the fathers who do so much (and like St. Joseph, himself) are given little fanfare. This year, in your celebrations, remember the new fathers that are not so well known to many: Father Joseph Scholten, Father Brian Eckrich, Father Andrew Thuringer, Father Tyler Mattson, Father Timothy Smith and Father Thomas Hartman (and Father … to be…God willing…Rev. Mr. Patrick Grode). Let us take a moment this week to prepare for next Sunday’s celebrations! Let’s not just think about our fathers for just one moment for one day this year.
Yes…we celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity this week. But, often, we are overwhelmed by the the Three in One Godhead. So…something to reflect –
At the Masses this weekend we will offer a special blessing to our fathers, grandfathers, godfathers, and all who offer us paternal love and care. They protect us, provide for us and support us often in many unappreciated ways. It is sad that all too often their holy vocation is depicted so disparagingly in sit-coms, movies, etc. Far from being bumbling dolts…our fathers are so often a great source of thoughtful advice, lived experience and compassionate encouragement. They are often faithful, quiet examples of hard work and loving dedication. We are deeply grateful for them and we ask our Heavenly Father to bless them this day.
There is a hymn in the missalette that always makes me pause on the greatness of the vocation of father’s as we think of the father of Jesus – St. Joseph (often thought of as the “forgotten” saint): “… And Joesph’s love make ‘father’, To be, for Christ, God’s Name”. (ref: By All Your Saints Still Striving) May, God our Heavenly Father, keep all our fathers close and blessed as they reflect His (often unspoken) Love.
A number of years ago a priest was visiting a family (on Father’s Day) and asked the youngest member of the family to explain what Father’s Day was – what it meant to him. He answered: “Well, it’s just like Mother’s Day, only you don’t spend as much money for the present!” Meanwhile, his Dad responded, one could define a Dad by saying he is a man who has replaced the cash in his wallet with snapshots – and the recipients of the cash are those in the snapshots.
At any rate guys, some weeks past we have heard beautiful readings of Jesus sending His Holy Spirit to be our Advocate. On this particular Father’s Day, let me be your advocate, for sometimes I believe that if ever a person needed a press agent, it is the father of the family. Too often Dad becomes the forgotten man. I suppose every day should be Father’s and Mother’s Day, but one of our favorite human weaknesses is to take the important for granted. And so many take Dad for granted. So, it is only right that we stop at least once a year and say: “Happy Father’s Day, Dad!” Perhaps our prayer today could be: “Our Fathers, who are on earth, and who gives us our daily bread, forgive us our trespass of taking you for granted!”
As is true in my case, I am sure many in our congregation cannot say: “Happy Father’s Day” because their fathers are deceased. And they would give anything to just give a hug or a gift or a card. Those of you, whose dad is still living, profit from the experience of others who live with the privation in their hearts that Dad is not with them today because he has returned to the Lord. They would tell you, enjoy his presence, and do not be afraid to express your love and gratitude. Further, there are still others in our congregation who cannot say “Happy Father’s Day” because their Father may have easily brought them into this world, but failed to be that active, loving presence and role model needed as the child grew and developed in this world. The privation they experience is the absence of a Dad who ought to have been there, but, for one reason or another, simply was not present. I suggest that you pray for the grace to forgive, so that the bitterness you might justifiably experience does not destroy your own spirit. There is a great Chinese proverb that says: “When you choose against forgiveness, dig two graves; one for the person that hurt you so much…and one for yourself, for your own anger will eventually destroy you too.”
I once read an article that I would like to share with you that makes great sense. Several years ago a young man’s father had a stroke and his mother had been taking care of him at home. But as his Dad’s health deteriorated, his mother was unable to adequately to care for him and the doctor insisted that he be transferred to a convalescent home. So they hired an ambulance to transport him there; the mother and the young man followed in his car. On the way there, the ambulance stopped at a traffic signal and the young man pulled up behind. Just then a couple of young boys came out of the corner drug store eating ice cream. The first boy looked into the ambulance window, then pointed and shouted to his friend: “Hey, there’s a guy in there!” The young man following the ambulance knew that the boy meant nothing disrespectful by his comment, but the thought immediately came to his mind: “That’s not just a ‘guy’ in there; that’s my dad!”
I have a hunch that’s what it will be when those who are already in heaven watch the arrival of our dad’s into heaven: One of the saints in heaven will say to another: “Look, here comes another saint” – and you’ll straighten your shoulders, hold your head up high and say: “That’s not just another saint; that’s my dad!”
A Christian father is a reflection of Our Father in heaven…he is a provider, a protector, a teacher, a friend. He is an exemplar, a disciplinarian, a patriarch and a spiritual leader – and most special!
Happy Father’s Day Everyone.