Posted by: frroberts | June 19, 2016

Father’s Day Homily (III)

Today we look at Saint Paul as a Father figure.  We start with the Scripture from 2 Corinthians, part of a our 2nd reading:

The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

In previous generations, the culture in which we lived inculcated young men with discipline in order to make them responsible for their actions.  Responsibility for one’s actions is both a human and a Christian virtue.  While every young man fell short in this or that area, there were certain values that came to be associated with being a man of honor.  These included:

Don’t be a freeloader: When they finished school, young men were expected to find a job, even if the job did not pay much and involved hard physical labor.  Men who failed to launch by a certain age were not viewed favorably by other adults and especially by females close their age.  Put simply, a freeloader could not find a date.

Tell the truth: In past generations young men were expected to be honest in their dealings.  Great stigma was attached to not being a man of one’s word.  Business deals could be closed with a handshake and not a contract because a man’s word was generally trustworthy.  Perhaps there were fewer lawyers for this reason.

Treat women with respect: There were many social conventions that reinforced that fact that although a young man is usually physically stronger than a woman, he should not take advantage of this strength in order to use her.  A man was expected to wait until he was married to enjoy the softness of a woman.  If he was unable to do so and became a father, he was expected to take responsibility for his actions by marrying the woman in question.

While there are many more, these three examples will have to suffice.  Today we live in a much different world where grown men play video games for hours on end and look at things they shouldn’t on their smartphones.

Being a father in the world in which we live today involves conversion of heart.  The same could be said about being a Christian, but today is Father’s Day, so we will focus on fathers.  The intentionality that is necessary will have look something like the intentionality that Saint Paul had to exercise in order to be a good spiritual father.  What can Saint Paul teach us about fatherhood today?

1) A good father stands in the truth.  A loving father never courts popularity, but rather exercises authority.  In numerous instances Paul had to stand firm on his core principles when it would been much easier for him to waffle and compromise.  For example, when Jewish Christians insisted that male Gentiles had to practice circumcision to enter the Church, Paul might have backed off.  But because he knew with unshakeable certainty that the Cross of Christ saves us and not cutting away a man’s foreskin, compromise was impossible.

2) The root of a father’s authority is self-sacrifice.  While Saint Paul had a right to be supported entirely by the people in his flock (today we would call them parishioners), he sometimes also worked as a tent maker in order support himself.  When I teach ELM classes and donate my salary to the parishes, I am trying to follow Paul’s example.  While a good father knows how to take care of himself so that he can continue to work, he lives to serve his wife and his children.  The fatherly authority that he possesses is necessary in order to help facilitate his ability to initiate his act of self-sacrifice.

3) A loving father makes sure that his children know that he loves them.  Numerous times in Saint Paul’s letters he declares his love to his spiritual children, even if they did not love him back.  There are not many things more painful for a father, spiritual or otherwise, to have his love rejected by his children.  When a father reaches out to one of his children in moment of need, usually with some counsel and offer to help address the difficulty, and the response is, “No thanks, dad, I really can handle things just fine on my own,” the rejection stings.  The bitterness of this sting comes from knowing that one of his children is in a bad way and does not want to get better.  God our heavenly Father must feel like this every time we sin.

In country in which more than 40% of children are born out wedlock and even more grow up without a father as being a stable part of their lives, being a good dad definitely involves swimming against the current by learning how to live for others and not for oneself.  Saint Paul has something very important to teach us in this regard:

The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.


Responses

  1. What a wonderful tribute to the fathers on Father’s Day–3 homilies! Thank you Father Christopher for being our spiritual father. A happy and blessed
    Father’s Day!

    Like

  2. What a wonderful tribute to all of the fathers on Father’s Day–3 homilies.
    Thank you, Father Christopher, for being our spiritual father. Happy and blessed Father’s Day!

    Like


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