June 19, 2016: 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time C - Father’s Day
Click to hear Audio Homily
A father of a five children came home with a new toy. He asked his children which of them should be given the present. “I’ll give this toy to the one who is the most obedient here. Who here never talks back to mom and does everything that mom says to do.” The children paused and answered back in unison, “You play with the toy daddy!” As one recently deceased man whom I knew well told me, “Father, can I tell you the secret to a happy marriage that I learned from my dad? He told me, ‘As long as your mom is happy, the whole family is happy.’ I try my best to make my wife happy.” On this Father’s Day, we remember and honor dads, grandfathers, uncles, and all the men, living and deceased, who tirelessly and selflessly gave of themselves for their spouse and families with unconditional love.
What does your father mean to you? (Both living and deceased) What is the one thing you are proud about your father? A father of seven children was asked, “What are you most proud of?” He thought for awhile and then replied, “my weaknesses.” He explained that he made many mistakes in his life, and yet he realized that those were opportunities for growth. His faith in Jesus taught him that Heavenly Father loved him in his weakness. In his humility he realized what St. Paul wrote in the letter to the Corinthians, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10)
Who am I for you? It’s another way to express the question that Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” In today’s gospel, Jesus spent the night in solitude in prayer to his Father. Who is Father to Jesus? For Jesus, his Father meant everything to him. He loved his Father with love like no human son can love. And the expression of that love was Jesus’ resolute determination to fulfill his Father’s will, through the passion and sacrifice on the cross. Jesus’ greatest desire for us is that we too love his Father like he did. The more we know about the Father, the more we will love Him. Jesus came to reveal who our Father is like. And Jesus revealed that the Father loved all of us so much that He gave us His only Son. To love the Father, Jesus said was to follow the narrow path of daily sacrifice of carrying our cross. Who is Heavenly Father for you? Do you know Him? Do you love Him? Do you love Him enough to listen to Him who speaks through His Son Jesus?
Jesus also asks of all of us, “Who am I for you?” Who is Jesus for us? We may respond to him as Peter did just as we learned in the religion class: you are the Son of the living God, you are the Redeemer, you are the Lord! Yet what we have learned and studied in the religion class does not suffice. How much of what we know of Jesus is truly our conviction and faith? We see that although Peter answers Jesus correctly, Peter is rebuked when he shows displeasure of the path of suffering that Jesus is revealing. Only when Peter failed Jesus by denying and betraying him, Peter comes to realize who Jesus is for him. Later Peter realizes on the shores of Galilee walking with Risen Jesus, how much Jesus loves him in his weakness.
Peter’s weakness is found in all of us. Not a day goes by when we let down our loved ones and especially Jesus through our failure to love. But God does not leave us in our misery. Like a compassionate father, He gently corrects us, forgives us, and binds our wounds. He also provides for us St. Joseph as a model of an exemplary father and a tireless intercessor who assists us daily. How many of us say a regular prayer to St. Joseph? On the door leading to the garage of our rectory at St. Francis is a relief of St. Joseph. As I exit the door, I briefly touch St. Joseph and pray, “St. Joseph, please guide me this day as my spiritual father.”
Saint Joseph experienced the same difficulties in life we all do, yet he lived an exemplary life and established an ideal that is well-worth emulating, especially for all men. For St. Joseph, doing God’s will was paramount; God always came first. Each time God told him to do something, Joseph’s response was immediate and he would carry out the task at hand the way God wanted it done. He faithfully and tenderly loved, protected and provided for the Child Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Saint Joseph certainly set the bar high for modern-day fathers, yet, by his very example, Joseph solidly demonstrates that it is quite possible to follow his example to be a righteous man by listening to, trusting in and obeying God’s word.
Likewise, earthly fathers are called to teach his children by example to cultivate a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father through prayer, to live their lives according to God’s word and guide them firmly along the path to Heaven. An earthly father is called to be a source of strength and support for his spouse and the whole family.
So, today, on this Father's Day, I ask all fathers to take a minute and thank God for their vocation and for the gift of family and children. We cannot look back and redo mistakes we have made, but like Peter, we can resolve again to serve the Heavenly Father. We ask Heavenly Father for the grace for our fathers to be ever closer to his children and wife. As St. Joseph was for Jesus, be the example and teacher of the wisdom that is nourished by the Word of God.
Blessing for the Fathers
Through the intercession of St. Joseph, may you be filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
May you be granted most especially fortitude, and the wisdom to allow God to mold you into the father and husband he has created you to be. May you walk in the humble path of St. Joseph and guide your family always in the ways of our Lord.
-Fr. Paul Yi