Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day! We honor our fathers both physical and spiritual. Yet it’s been said that there is a fatherhood crisis in the world today. Pope Benedict recently acknowledged that in a General Audience. Let us reflect on what he said as we pray for our Holy Father and his intentions.

St. Paul says that the Holy Spirit is the great teacher of prayer and teaches us to address God with the affectionate words of children, calling Him “Abba, Father”. This is what Jesus did; even in the most dramatic moment of His earthly life, He never lost confidence in the Father and always called out to Him with the intimacy of the beloved Son. In Gethsemane, as He feels the anguish of death, His prayer is: “Abba! Father! All things are possible to Thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt” (Mark 14:36). From the very first steps of her journey, the Church received this invocation and made it her own, especially in the prayer of the Our Father, in which we daily say: “Father … Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (cf. Matthew 6:9-10). …

Perhaps men today do not perceive the beauty, the grandeur and the profound consolation contained in the word “father” by which we may address God in prayer, because the father figure today is often not sufficiently present; and this presence is often not adequately positive in daily life. A father’s absence, i.e. the problem of a father who is not present in the child’s life, is a great problem of our time; and therefore, it becomes difficult to understand the profound significance of what it means to say that God is a Father to us. We can learn from Jesus Himself, and from His filial relationship with God, what being a “father” truly means, and the true nature of the Father who is in heaven. Critics of religion have said that to speak of the “Father”, of God, would be a projection of our human fathers onto heavenly realities. But the opposite is true: in the Gospel, Christ shows us who a father is and what a true father is like, so that we may sense what true fatherhood is, and also learn true fatherhood. Consider Jesus’ word during the Sermon on the Mount, where he says: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). It is precisely Jesus’ love -- which reaches even to the gift of himself on the Cross -- that reveals the Father’s true nature to us: He is Love, and we too, in our prayer as children, enter into this movement of love, into God’s love, which purifies our desires and our attitudes that are marked by closure, by self-sufficiency and by the egoism that characterize the old man.

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