By Fr. Glenn Jones:
Well, a happy, joyful and blessed Father’s Day to all you dads out there. The privilege you have with Mom in being entrusted with those little gifts of God is beyond all others. “Entrusted” is the right word, because in your hands is the early formation of what those little ones will become in the core of their being—the part that really matters—with your example and practice (or lack) of honesty, integrity, charity, kindness, etc. Is it not so much more fulfilling to see one’s child grow into a virtuous man or woman regardless of occupation rather than being a self-centered arrogant jerk in a “high-vis” or high-earning position?
But, of course, instilling of good character begins at home. So, dads … are you honest? Kind? Generous? Thoughtful? Sincere? Trustworthy? Respectful to parents and elder relatives/friends? Hard working, but attentive to family? As George Herbert wrote: “One father is more than a hundred school-masters.”
In this day of so many distractions, it’s easy to get lost in that which is immediately more entertaining in the moment. But what the kids see, so very likely will they become. A dismissive and neglectful attitude towards one’s own children can remind us of one of Jesus’ parables, slightly revised: “…what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his [children]?” (Matthew 16:26) After all, when the world abandons us, it is our children and families who care for us when we are sick or old, or only children can give you with the wonderful gift of grandchildren. There’s no trophy, award or notation “in the books” that can ever replace their love. One might remember this movie quote: “There comes a time…when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a father’s love for his child.”
Now, God has made fathers and mothers not only as nurturers, but leaders of their children. So … lead! Be that example of virtue and goodness that you want to see in them. As the saying goes in the military: “Leaders lead from the front”, so if dear ol’ Dad (and Mom) makes the kids proud, the kids will seek to emulate that in their own lives—both in youth and in later life. Material support is necessary, but much more so is spiritual well-being and righteousness, and thus the importance of humble faith in the Christian fathers and mothers. Christian parents who put their faith in ardent practice with their children place God and Goodness at the true head of their family as their guiding star. Yet if we, like Peter walking on the water, become distracted by the concerns of the world and thereby take our eyes—our trust—off Christ, we (and the family) begin to sink. Yet if we reach out, He is always there to catch us, and it’s so important to instill that confidence into children so that they never see themselves as irredeemable.
You know that young people often rebel, but if such teaching and example of virtue has been present in their formative years, its return often makes its appearance when their night seems darkest, providing hope and direction. When they have strayed, always be ready to receive them home again, as did the prodigal son’s father. (Luke 15). Yes, be wary of enabling bad behavior (tough love is sometimes the best love), but also ready to forgive, helping them along the right path and providing them hope. Jesus taught us to always forgive: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
Now, you kids … treasure your parents while you have them, for time passes quickly and we who are older and have lost parents have experienced how “…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) Too late children reflect on what more they could have done to reciprocate their parents’ love, and every fault toward them tending to plague conscience. But know that those in Heaven forgive all past slights, no matter how egregious. They know all too well the weaknesses of our shared human nature, and simply long for us to be with them again in an eternal embrace with Our Father.
So, you dads, cherish the gift … the privilege … the honor that fatherhood is. In your role, your love and care for your children is to reflect the love and care of God the Eternal Father for all.
And so, as a reminder and because of its importance, we excerpt the teaching of scripture on Father’s (AND Mother’s) Day:
1 Listen to me your father, O children; and act accordingly…
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…
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.
And, of course, St. Paul referring to the Commandment: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
How is a man a good father? It is good to remember the adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13 as an annually reminder:
“[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.”
Rev. Glenn Jones is the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and former pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Los Alamos.