Each Sunday at Mass, when we proclaim our Catholic faith, we say the following, “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.” With these words, we acknowledge the fact that Jesus addressed His heavenly Father as “Abba”- a word that can be translated into English as “daddy”.
For Jesus, the term “Father” was one of great endearment, tenderness and love which tried to convey in a word what has existed forever in a perfect, divine way- the eternal and divine love that is shared between the Father and the Son.
As we pause to celebrate this Father’s Day, we pray for and celebrate all fathers, grandfathers, godfathers and spiritual fathers both living and deceased.
It seems to me that we must also reflect upon the life-giving gift of love that each father is asked to share with those around him, especially his wife and children. For the essence of fatherhood is not simply procreating life but sustaining, nurturing and protecting life in every way possible, especially through the gift of love.
Unfortunately, we live in a time when we often over-emphasize the responsibility to provide for the material needs of those whom we love rather than the greater need to provide for the emotional and spiritual needs of these same persons. Our society wants to reduce the work of our fathers to simply the “material provider” of his family.
Our faith tells us, in imitation of the Heavenly Father, that such “providing” extends far beyond material things. For the heart of a child is far more hungry for affection, attention and affirmation than any electronic device. Time spent sharing one’s heart with a wife is far more important than any vacation, car or house we can buy.
When Jesus went up the mountain to pray, He spent countless hours with his “Abba”. He brought with him nothing but His love and took away from those encounters nothing more than His love.
For all our fathers who give of themselves in love to their families, neighbors and friends, thank you for helping us to glimpse the face of “God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth”.