Father’s Day Homily

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” (1 John 3:1) As St. Paul says in the second reading, “Through faith [and baptism] you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-27) God is our Father who lives and reigns in Heaven. What is the fatherhood of God the Father like? What can we say about His fatherhood. I offer these insights:

The Father’s love begets life.
We see this in His Son, who is eternally begotten from the Father. And begetting is not a merely an action which the Father had done and then walked away from. The Son is eternally begotten from the Father in love.  And, as the Prologue of John’s Gospel says, “All things came to be through [this Son], and …. what came to be through him was life…” The Father’s love begets life.

The Father labors in love.
God the Father labors to fashion and sustain creation; heaven and earth and every creature, seen and unseen. He makes them in love and preserves them in love. As the prophet in the book of Wisdom observes, “[Lord,] you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned. And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you? But you spare all things, because they are yours, O LORD and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things!” (Wisdom 11:24-12:1)  The Father labors in love.

The Father guides His family.
The world became dark though sin, so the Father enlightened it. The people became lost without Him, so the Father guided them. The Father enlightens and guides His children by speaking His word to them. Jesus Christ is the Father’s word. The Father guides His family.

The Father is easily pleased by those who are His own, yet He calls them ever higher.
At Jesus’ baptism, the Father spoke from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Yet, as today’s gospel recalls, the Father also called His beloved Son to take up the cross. Four days before His Passion, Jesus said, “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” (John 12:27-28) On the cross, Jesus was not just lifted up, but exalted. The Father is easily pleased by those who are His own, yet He calls them ever higher.

The Father is just like the Son.
Some people find it difficult to relate to the Father, but the Father is just like His Son. At the Last Supper, Philip said to Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.” (John 14:8-10)  The Father is just like the Son.

The Father transcends human fatherhood, but He is the origin and standard of all fatherhood.
God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. The Father is neither man nor woman: He is God. Although the Father is the origin of all fatherhood, He transcends human fatherhood. No one is father as God is Father. Yet, we who are earthly fathers, who have natural or spiritual families and children of our own, must take our Father in Heaven as our standard and model. Each of the insights I have given for God the Father have application for our fatherhood.

Your fatherhood should beget life.
Now the begetting of life is not merely biological, if it were then priests would not be fathers. There are some biological fathers who beget life and leave. These men fall very far short being true fathers. True fathers give life and nurture that life forever, like God the Father who begets His Son eternally. If you are a mother or father, even if even if your children should die, even if you should die, you are a mother or father forever.

Your natural fatherhood should be fruitful. More than just biologically, but biologically, too. What would you think of a priest who was both capable and called to work to beget more spiritual children by sharing the gospel, but who refused to do so for self-centered reasons. What if he were to say, “I’m happy with the number of parishioners I have already.” Your fatherhood should beget life.

Your fatherhood should be a labor in love.
Always remember whom you are working for and work for love of them. Beware of an ambitious careerism, which is all about you. What would you think of a priest whose primary ambition was to become a cardinal, instead of those entrusted to him. 

At home or at the workplace, labor in love for your family. And take time to rest and enjoy them. Even God the Father rested after His labors to enjoy how “very good” it was.

Your fatherhood should guide your family.
You are called to be a leader, guide, and teacher for your family. Your wife will not begrudge your lead if you love her and lead her as Jesus loves and leads the Church. Remember, Jesus died for His family and bride.

As parents, you are the primary educators of your children. Sometimes we think of education as only what happens at school. But the most important lessons in life are not taught in the schools, but in the home. The home is the domestic Church and the school of love.

In your fatherhood, let your children know your pleasure in them and always call them ever higher, to all they can be.
Always show them your pleasure, that with them you are well-pleased. But like God, love them too much to let us remain as we are.  Grow them to their full potential.

In your fatherhood, take the Father in heaven as your standard and model.
If you’re ever unsure of how to image the Father, look at His son, for Jesus is the perfect image of the Father. The Father is just like the Son.

May God bless all our Fathers, living or dead, and may help we who are fathers to be better ones.


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