Fathers Day

"And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven." Matthew 23. 9

Where on earth did that come from? Father's Day, I mean. In the Gospel according to Wikipedia we are informed that the tradition of honouring fathers originated in the USA at the beginning of the 20th century, alongside other occasions for celebrating family life including two I had never heard of before: Siblings Day and Grandparents Day. The same source informs me that, since mediaeval times, the Orthodox Church has marked the second Sunday before Christmas as the Sunday of the Forefathers, in recognition of Jesus' male ancestors. I doubt there is any connection with Fathers Day as we know it.

So, then, what are we celebrating? For some, not a lot. Fathers have been notorious for our poor performance. Yet that should not prevent us from acknowledging those who have lived up to their role and fulfilled our expectations of strong, benevolent male parenting. I would place my own father in that category. I doubt my own children would afford me the same compliment. But that is another story for another day...

While giving credit where it is due and sympathy where too many are suffering the consequences of absentee and abusive fathers, we can all rejoice in the Father who never lets us down and loves us with complete and unconditional love: our Father in heaven. Jesus was not the first to address God as "Father" but he certainly broke new ground in the intimacy which he encouraged us to enjoy in sharing that relationship. He also broke down the barrier separating us from our heavenly Father, thereby enabling that deeper intimacy. In the many and various images Jesus gave us of the Father through his parables and more general teaching, Jesus transforms the impression of divine fatherhood: from austere and remote to compassionate and vulnerable, while remaining transcendent and glorious.

What a privilege to know God in his fulness, as revealed by Jesus through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Rejoice and be glad that we are not orphans - in this world or the next. Today, let us share this comforting insight with any who might be feeling lonely, abandoned or worried...

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