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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Father's Day 2012 Homily





A few years ago my Spiritual Director shared a riddle with me and then sent me away to ponder the riddle until our next meeting.


Here is the riddle:

What is stronger than God,

More evil than the devil,

Poor people have it,

Rich people don’t need it,

And if you eat it, you will die.


 

I thought and thought about the riddle and then I finally figured it out, the answer is “Nothing.”

What is stronger than God,

More evil than the devil,

Poor people have it,

Rich people don’t need it,

And if you eat it, you will die.


A riddle can also be called a parable. Parables are stories that leave the listener without an answer. Jesus liked to use parables in his teaching and often left the disciples to try and figure out the meaning of such stories. And here we are today, some 2000 years later, still trying to figure out just what Jesus meant when he told the story of The Wedding Feast, The Dishonest Steward, The Good Samaritan, and even The Mustard Seed.

A wise theologian once said that we can not comprehend the parables of Jesus until we see ourselves in the story. Like a small child, recognizing herself in the mirror for the first time, when we see ourselves represented in the story, then we finally get it.

Then we realize that we are:

• the rebellious son who ran away with his father’s fortune,

• or the Levite who passed by the beaten man on the road to Jericho,

• or even the foolish man who built his home on sand instead of rock.

Once we see ourselves in the story, the story then takes on a whole new meaning, and we learn a little more about ourselves, and more about God. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the second parable in Today’s Gospel that speaks of the Kingdom of God:

“With what can we compare the Kingdom of God, what parable will we use for it?  It’s like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground is the smallest of all seeds on the earth; yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes the greatest of all plants, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in it’s shade.”

Was the point of the parable that something small can grow into something great? Was Jesus perhaps saying that a small baby that was born in a humble stable would grow up to become a Savior, and people would find comfort and security in him? Could Jesus have been saying that this Church, which began with just a tiny gathering of fearful men in a small, upper room in Jerusalem, would one day become a gathering of millions of faith filled people? Or could this parable mean that if we only had faith the size of a mustard seed, our faith would mature and grow, and would be enough to bring us to everlasting life? That is what is so wonderful about parables, there can be many different interpretations and meanings, and God has left it up to each one of us to figure it out for ourselves.

Today, However, I want to suggest another possible interpretation of the Parable of the Mustard Seed on this Father’s day. Could it be that the mustard seed is the child in our midst? We all know how much Jesus loved children, and how he would call them to him, even as the disciples tried at times to keep them away. Could Jesus be using the words of a parable to remind the fathers of every age that our children are our greatest gift, and our greatest responsibility? These children, these mustard seeds, are to be nourished, encouraged, protected, and guided, until they can grow to become the greatest of all plants.

But as Dads, we often become distracted and can fall short.

• We often work long hours to provide for our families and don’t have time or energy to play catch or help with school projects.
• We often are annoyed by our kid’s music and ask them to wear head phones shutting them out.
• We often try to mold them into what we want them to be, missing their uniqueness, and failing to support their dreams.

Assuming for a minute that Jesus told The Mustard Seed Parable to serve as a timeless reminder to fathers, there are also a few things I believe to be true as well:

• That the best way to love our children is to love, honor, and respect their mother.

• That the best gift we can give our children is a sense of safety and security as they grow up.

• That it is more important to give them our time, not our money.

• That it is more important to be respected by them, than to be liked by them.

• That it is more important to encourage them in their interests, than to require them to share in ours.

• And it is us, fathers, who are to teach, model, and live our Catholic faith fervently as the spiritual leaders of the home.

Like it or not Men, our actions speak volumes about us to our kids. They see everything we do, and what we don’t do, and they learn from us. They will always love their mother, but they will want to be like you. We have been given this great gift; some biological, some adopted, and some just placed in our lives.

Fathers play an irreplaceable role in the lives of children, and without their influence, lives of children are seriously affected. Just look around, look at a culture where so many homes are father-less. Look at how many children struggle without that Spiritual Leader in their midst.

With so many riddles in the world, the answers are often found in the examples of those who model for us God’s love, strength, and virtue. And as Saint Paul states in the 2nd reading, for we walk by faith, not by sight, and we aspire to please Him.

As mothers are the heart and love of the home, fathers are to be the spiritual leaders of the family, just as Saint Joseph was the spiritual leader of the holy family.

The Father who through his actions and example:

• nourishes his children,

• helps them to grow,

• at times may find a need to prune,

• but ultimately will form them with large branches

• and then, can joyfully witness how others will come to dwell in their shade.

Fathers, you are the reflection of Christ to your children, young and old:

• serve them well,

• fulfill your responsibilities,

• watch those seeds grow into something great, great in the eyes of God,

• and then, in this life and in the next, you Truly will be blessed.


Happy Father’s Day!

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