Saturday, June 14, 2008

Reflections on Fatherhood

Tomorrow is Father's Day and it is amazing to think that I have been a father for nearly 10 years. Oh, how quickly it has gone. Fatherhood isn't easy, especially when you have four boys. However, it isn't difficult for the reasons that many may suspect. I don't mind the noise, being ambushed anytime I am lying on the floor or the smells (man, can they create some smells!). The difficulty lies in realizing that I am responsible for shaping the character of four future men. So as I ponder the responsibility that I have taken on, I look at the readings for Father's Day.

The first reading comes to us from Exodus 19:2-6. In this reading God tells Israel that they will be to him a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. God calls fathers to be priests just as he calls priests to be fathers. How is a father a priest?

The priesthood of a father can be traced all the way back to Adam, the father of humanity. In the beginning, God tells Adam to "till and keep" the garden. The words that are used here are abod and shamar. Basically, these are priestly words that mean to "serve and protect." A father has the priestly duty of serving his family. Not only does a father have to serve by providing for the material needs of a family, but he must provide for the spiritual needs as well. Providing for the spiritual needs means that a father must ensure that his family is being brought up in the faith by attending Mass and frequenting the sacraments. By making sure that his family's spiritual needs are being met, the father is also protecting his family from spiritual enemies. We all know that a father must protect his family from outside intruders, but we often neglect to protect our families from spiritual intruders. Remember, Jesus told us not to fear those who can kill the body, but to fear him who can kill the body and the soul in Hell. We need to know our faith. We need to practice our faith. Our children need to have this faith taught to them. And who better to teach the faith than the priest of the family?

The second reading comes from Romans 5: 6-11. In this passage, we read that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus sets the perfect example of a servant leader. He puts the needs of his bride, the Church, ahead of his own. Jesus is the perfect example of a husband. The best gift that a father can give to his children is to love their mother. Jesus shows us how to do that. He empties himself and becomes a man. He then gives himself up in sacrifice for people who are sinning against him. Fathers must love their wives.

As fathers, we must remember to keep our priorities in order. God, Family, Work. In that order. Most of us inherently know that family should come before work. After all, no one carries around pictures of their office. However, you will find many "proud daddys" toting pictures of their families. Our job requires vacation, but our family is our vocation. No matter where we go, or what we do, we will always be fathers.

May God grant us the grace to love our families as he loves us.

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