Fr. Glenn: A(nother) Fiery Father’s Day

By Rev. Glenn Jones
Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church
Los Alamos

Dang, another fire … just like last year at this time. In the Valle Caldera, no less.  Well … hopefully the rain we just received (thank you, Lord!) will knock some of these conflagrations down around the state and up in Colorado. 

As you know, one of the greatest tragedies of most wildfires is that they are so often caused simply by persons careless in watching and/or dousing campfires. Thus, we see how responsibility can equal charity. These human-caused fires are perfect examples of the “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” wisdom. With wildfire, that adage is a tremendous understatement; Los Alamos and the surrounding areas know that in spades! And now with July 4th around the corner, we have yet another reason for trepidation. C’mon, monsooooon season!

On a more joyful note, a very happy and blessed Fathers’ Day to all you fathers out there! May God bless all of you as He has blessed and entrusted you with His most precious creations: your children—images of God, and each unique and unrepeatable. What a privilege given you to be their fathers on earth … to protect, guide and shepherd them into the way of goodness, charity and peace. 

One can easily adapt the old traditional Guardian Angel prayer to fathers: “Dearest father, my guardian dear / To whom God’s love commits me here / Ever this day be at my side / To light and guard, to rule and guide.” And below is a passage from the book of Sirach, chapter three, to help us remember how God has given parents an exalted status, reflecting His own eternal Fatherhood. A wonderful privilege, entailing grave responsibility:

1 Listen to me your father, O children; and act accordingly, that you may be kept in safety.

2 For the Lord honored the father above the children, and he confirmed the right of the mother over her sons.

3 Whoever honors his father atones for sins,

4 and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure.

5 Whoever honors his father will be gladdened by his own children, and when he prays he will be heard.

6 Whoever glorifies his father will have long life, and whoever obeys the Lord will refresh his mother;

7 he will serve his parents as his masters.

8 Honor your father by word and deed, that a blessing from him may come upon you.

9 For a father’s blessing strengthens the houses of the children…

10 Do not glorify yourself by dishonoring your father, for your father’s dishonor is no glory to you.

11 For a man’s glory comes from honoring his father, and it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother.

12 O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives;

13 even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance; in all your strength do not despise him.

14 For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, and against your sins it will be credited to you;

15 in the day of your affliction it will be remembered in your favor; as frost in fair weather, your sins will melt away.

Treasure your parents while you have them, for time passes so very quickly, and as we who are a bit older know all too well, “…the silver cord is snapped…the golden bowl is broken…and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7) But the faithful Christian fears not, because his confidence and hope is in God’s grace and in the blessed and eternal life to come. 

As St. Paul declares in the readings of the Catholic Mass this weekend, ultimately we Christians, in the clarity of grace, faith and hope, “…would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6) … “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me…[but] My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Philippians 1:21-23) After all, death is that inevitable portal through which we all must pass on our way to God and eternity.

How is a man a good father? We need only adapt slightly St. Paul’s verses from 1 Corinthians 13:

“[A father] is patient, [a father] is kind; [a father] is not jealous or boastful; [a father] is not arrogant or rude. [A father] does not insist on [his] own way; [a father] is not irritable or resentful; [he] does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. [A father] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [A father’s] faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is [a father’s] love.”

Remember, fathers: God will not ask how many degrees you earned or what earthly honors you had, but simply how you have loved Him and loved your neighbor … and taught your children so as well.

So, dads … rejoice in your children, and have a wonderful and blessed Father’s Day. And to all:  especially remember in your prayers those firefighting fathers (and all others) out there “on the line” sacrificing their Father’s Day—not reveling in the embraces of their children in air-conditioned comfort and delicious food, but blackened, sweating, thirsting … braving towering flames and enduring rugged hardships … keeping us safe.

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