Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Journey from Sonship to Fatherhood

Welcome gentlemen [and women if you are reading]! Hope this is first of a long series of many entries to inspire and uplift… for many years to come. The men’s outreach I am putting together has had its challenges…. and that perhaps leads to the best part: the trek to overcoming them. Thankfully, 2008 has been filled with many speaking engagements, and a number of radio interviews. That’s great, but I now have to make better use of the Internet. Okay, so here’s the start, with the blog…. Podcasts coming in July…. Things are starting to roll with steady velocity. Deo Gratias! Many thanks to all of you who are praying for me and my team. Much appreciated!

Right now I am settling into another foreign rectory in northern Virginia after having preached at the Saturday vigil Mass on “The Journey from Sonship to Fatherhood.” Of course, I used as my model the relationship of Jesus Christ to his Heavenly Father… Can’t go wrong there…. Jesus learned that journey of manhood and fatherhood through His sonship. His Father led the way. What Our Lord did was remain in constant communication with the Father, permitting the Father to communicate Himself in return. He carried out the will of the Father, following His commandments and the mission He bestowed. And also, among other things, the Son glorified the Father in all His deeds and the mission He received, also allowing the Father’s glory to operate within Him. This is the journey all of us men need to follow.

No doubt, Jesus Christ stands as the one who all men must strive to emulate, even as a father. He was fatherly in many of His deeds. By the way He led his apostles, by the way He corrected them, by the way He mentored them. He educated them about sacrifice, he taught them about adventure, He instructed them about the final journey toward death. Yep, Our Lord was active and tough with the men; and He made Himself present to women and was always kind to them. That’s right gentlemen, the path to manhood, the path to fatherhood, it is all in Christ. Yet, He never spoke of himself as a “father.” The Savior referred to himself always as “son.”

As I have seen in my own work of full-time men’s ministry, men struggle with their identity as acceptable and beloved sons of their own fathers—and therefore they oftentimes fall short in imparting that sense of being loved to their own children. Also, this lack of identity in sonship stifles the ability of fathers to raise their young with confidence and reassurance. Strong identity in sonship must be restored in Christian men, so they can be the secure fathers God ordained them to be. By imbibing the traits of sonship that Jesus Christ manifested, this enables a man to move forward in life with confident masculine identity—empowering him to be the son and father he his called to be. You now have this journey outlined above. Go to it!

We feel deep within that approval is needed from both our earthy and heavenly Father to make clear our path, to move forward, and to exist with vitality. In our human journey, we need to hear the words Christ received—words which every man yearns to hear: “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased” (Mk 1:11). These words are repeated in five other places in the Gospels—so they have to be necessary to hear! These words give us strength as men; let us strive to live lives worthy of these words. But perhaps more importantly on Father’s Day, let us impart these words to our own children. Instead of waiting for their call, let us instead call them, and tell them they are beloved. Assure them you are pleased with them. That one event, that single phone call, can be life-altering for your son or daughter. So what are you waiting for?

Four morning Masses to preach at tomorrow. While it can be tiring, the rewards are tremendous! To observe the sea of faces in the congregation with looks of validation, relief, and deep comfort, after hearing similar words to what you just read above….well, let’s just say there is nothing like it. Happy Father’s Day to all you men who are father’s—and I include the spiritual fathers here. God be with you all on your journey from sonship to fatherhood.