2 Sam 12:7-10,13; Gal 2:16, 19-21; Lk 7:36-8:3
Dear Friends! It is said that the fathers of 1900 didn’t have it nearly as good as fathers of today; but they did have a few advantages: In 1900, fathers prayed their children would learn English. Today, fathers pray their children will speak English. In 1900, a father’s horsepower meant his horses. Today, it’s the size of his minivan. In 1900, if a father put a roof over his family’s head, he was a success. Today, it takes a roof, deck, pool, and 4-car garage. And that’s just the vacation home. In 1900, a father came home from work to find his wife and children at the supper table. Today, a father comes home to a note: “Jimmy’s at baseball, Cindy’s at gymnastics, I’m at adult-Ed, Pizza in fridge.” In 1900, a happy meal was when Father shared funny stories around the table. Today, a happy meal is what Dad buys at McDonald’s.
Before I give this homily I want to wish all our dads a Happy Father’s Day. I am praying for the dads in this congregation, those who are at a distance from us and those who have gone to the Lord. I am also praying for those who, like myself, are striving to be spiritual fathers. We will have a blessing at the end of Mass for all dads present.
I was thinking fathers (and mothers) sometimes have a difficult job. They have to try to convince their children that vegetables do them more good than ice cream, that turning off the TV and going to bed early is important, especially on school nights, that they need to brush their teeth, go to school, be nice to others, share their things, do their chores and do dozens of other things that children are not inclined to do.
As we think of fathers, we can’t forget the One who created all of us. Of course the God we call Father has no gender, for God does not have a physical body. Only Jesus does. However, the image of God as Father is a convenient and comfortable way of thinking of God, for it was the way Jesus most often referred to God when he called him ‘Abba’, an Aramaic word meaning ‘daddy’.
Just as our biological fathers have the difficult job of bringing up the children well so also God the Father has the same difficult job. He tries to convince us that we are going to be happiest when we do what he tells us to do. One of the hard things he has to do, is to try to get us to take on faith many things we cannot see. He wants us to believe in him, to believe in his love (even though we do not see it at times), to believe in his Son Jesus, to believe that death is not the end of life but for those who faithfully follow Jesus but it is the beginning of eternal life.
In today’s first reading we find God the father correcting David his mistake through Prophet Nathan. David committed a great sin, but he did not despair. With the help of Nathan, he placed himself under the Divine Mercy. Many Psalms come from David, for example, the one we heard today: “Blessed is the man whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered.”
The Gospel of Luke is often known as the Gospel of Forgiveness. We heard in our Gospel the beautiful account of the woman who was a known public sinner meeting Jesus. It is one of the most tender and intimate moments in all the Gospels. She washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. In this beautiful intimate encounter Jesus is saying something to all of us; we are not to allow past sins to drag us down, the Lord wants to forgive us and release us and wants an intimate friendship with us.
Once a while I come across someone sharing that his/her father was abusive and alcoholic and can never forgive what he has done. Today if you have gone through such difficult times in your childhood, make effort to forgive. So often we think of fathers as being perfect. But they are just like us. They have faults too – sometimes big faults. Yet, beneath these faults is a loving person that longs for your love and forgiveness.
We have all sinned. Like David we face a choice. We can try to justify ourselves. Shift the blame. Say nobody can tell me what to do. Those things lead to death. Or like David – or the woman in today’s Gospel – admit the simple truth, “I have sinned.” And perhaps with the help of someone like Nathan, place ourselves under the Divine Mercy. “Blessed is the man whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered.” Let us celebrate the Father’s Day with the spirit of love and forgiveness. Amen.