As you can deduce from the title of this post, I am not preaching a homily in English today. At my morning Mass, it was the deacon’s turn to preach, and my other Mass today is in Portuguese, so most of my readers and podcast listeners would not benefit from a recording or transcription. So, here are a few ideas about what I would have said about the readings and Father’s Day at the Masses in English, and probably will say in Portuguese…
Throughout the readings today, we find the image of growing plants, trees and bushes that God plants and tends, emphasizing that, while the farmer can sow the seed, only God can make it flourish. It is He who makes the seed sprout and grow, who sends the sun and the rain to nourish it, who gives life and takes it away again. Even now, when science has given us so much more understanding and control of the natural world, our technology only works because God created the universe. He “disposed all things by measure, number and weight,” (Wis. 11:20) ruled by laws in and orderly fashion. Much still evades our understanding and control, and no matter how much we learn, we continue to be in God’s hands.
On earth, God often works by proxy. When we are small children, our parents are God’s representatives, lovingly watching over us, giving us food and education, and teaching us how to live by their word and example. In our early years, we often don’t understand all that our parents do for us to help us to grow and thrive. We don’t see all the sacrifices they make for us, all the work and love that goes into putting food on the table and clothes on our backs, and special treats on special occasions.
That’s why we have days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: so that we can show our gratitude and appreciation for all the things that our parents do for us, seen and unseen. They do it all out of love, not for material payment, and that’s exactly what we should give them back: love. On Father’s Day, it is great to give our fathers a material gift (whether that be a tie, a weed whacker, or lobster for dinner), but that’s not what is most important. It’s often more meaningful if we take the time to sit down and talk with them, to do something fun together, or to tell them some of our favorite memories of things they taught us or ways we felt their love in our lives.
It’s also important that we don’t forget the spiritual side of this day. We should be sure to pray in a special way for our fathers today, living or deceased, that God will reward them for their fatherly love and grant them in due time a home in His heavenly kingdom. Let us also pray for all fathers, especially those who have special challenges to face, whether because they are far from home because of their profession, or because of problems in their family, children with special needs, etc.
It’s also a good time to say a special prayer of thanks to God the Father. He doesn’t have any special feast throughout the year, but in a mysterious way, He is behind all the other events and means of salvation that we have received. He is our Creator, and it is He Who sent the Son, and who with the Son sent the Holy Spirit; He is “the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist.” (1 Cor. 8,6)
Lastly, let’s also remember our spiritual fathers, and pray for our priests! We priests sacrifice the possibility of having a biological family, in order to give ourselves to the spiritual family of God’s people. We don’t have to change diapers (thanks be to God!), drive our kids to baseball practice, or work to pay for our children’s tuition, but we have our own set of tasks and challenges; our own ways of living our paternity through the sacraments and through our efforts to be responsible and effective shepherds of our flock and administrators of the spiritual and material goods entrusted to us. It can be very rewarding, but it can also be very challenging. We need your prayers and support.
Thank you, and may God the Father bless us all, especially all those who are fathers! Happy Father’s day!