Bottom line: We are always courageous because we walk by faith, not by sight.
Happy Father's Day! In this homily I will address fatherhood, spiritual fatherhood and those called to fatherhood.
This fits with our summer series focusing on the readings from St. Paul: his 2nd letter to the Corinthians and (beginning in mid-July) the letter to the Ephesians. Last Sunday we heard Paul speak about the affliction we bear: physical ailments, betrayals, persecution, anxiety, exhaustion. The list goes on.
Today Paul says that in spite of these afflictions, "we are always courageous." What does he mean? That we are some kind of macho guys? If that were the case, I'd never qualify. You have to read the whole verse. "We are always courageous," says Paul "for (because) we walk by faith not by sight."
If we relied solely on sight we would despair. After all, what do we see? Families breaking apart, young people drawn into a culture of empty show and pornography, homelessness in the midst of abundance, increase in suicides, devastating diseases. While our culture glitters, we know all that glitters is not gold. If we relied solely on sight we would despair.
You and I, however, do not walk simply by sight. We walk by faith and that makes us hopeful, even courageous. We can see this in a pastoral letter written by Bishop Thomas Olmstead. (We were in school together, but don't hold that against him.) Bishop Olmstead challenges us men to take up our task. His letter has three parts: 1) what it means to be a Christian man; 2) how a Catholic man loves and 3) why fatherhood, fully understood, is crucial for every man. In his final section he quotes St. John Paul, "Becoming dad and mom makes us more like God...all the baptized, even though in different ways, are called to be a father or mother." Pope John Paul considers that Satan's primary strategy is to damage and abolish fatherhood. Why? Because that's the relationship where each of us glimpses what God's fatherhood might be like. A mother almost automatically loves her child. Not so automatic with a father. He has to make a choice: Will he love and care for this child? With the father we see love as a choice, a decision.*
After speaking about the importance of fathers - both physical and spiritual - Bishop Olmstead has a beautiful section on the importance of grandfathers. Finally he offers a special word to "those men who have failed in their fatherhood." He writes, "This is true to a greater or lesser degree in each and every one of us." I feel that very much myself. St. Paul writes today about how one day you and I must "appear before the judgment seat of Christ." It makes me tremble when I realize I will be judged on how I carried out my role as a spiritual father.
Even though I tremble I do not pull back. As Bishop Olmstead observes: the enemy wants to drag us into a despair. He wants us to abandon our fatherhood: to feel unneeded - like a fifth wheel. But there is hope. We walk by faith not by sight. By faith, by making a good confession, by receiving the Eucharist we can rebuild lost fatherhood. A father can start by praying for his children - perhaps even at Eucharistic Adoration.
Here's the truth, brothers: No matter how far a person has sunk, no matter how miserable he feels, there's hope: we walk by faith not by sight.
We'll this more clearly next Sunday. It falls on June 24 - the Solemnity of St. John the Baptist. A man of great courage. We will focus on the hope he gives by the "baptism of repentance." What counts are not our past failures, but whether we make a new beginning. This good news encourages us to start fresh, especially in the great call to fatherhood. Here's what God wants us to take home today: We are always courageous because we walk by faith, not by sight. Amen.
*For sure a mother makes a choice to carry her child but once she sees and touches her infant the love seems imposed.
From Archives (11th Ordinary Sunday - Year B):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Easter Season 2018*
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru