Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Many Fathers

As we celebrate Fathers Day, I look back on my own life and see how many fathers God has blessed me with. My biological father I have never known. If he is still alive he could still be in Danville, and would be about 70 or 71 years old. Even though I do not know him I still must thank him for the gift of life he gave me.

Secondly is my foster father who in November 1964, chose to become my adoptive father. He survived the Great Depression as a child, left school to help support his family, and eventually went off to WWII, from whence he came back forever changed. Quiet and alcoholic, he worked in the hot deafening mill, rarely missing a day. He expressed his love not with words but with simple actions. Those ugly brown shoes with the braces would appear in my room polished and oiled( so I didn't squeak when I waked). My books which I would leave scattered on the dining room table, would show up in a neat stack on the corner of my desk. And of course, this being Virginia taught me how to handle and respect the rifle we kept in the house. He was far from perfect, but...

I think of him because after more than a decade of wars, this Fathers Day, we have in our country an innumerable host of fathers, physically and psychologically wounded, who through no fault of their own may never be the dad they once hoped to be. The many fathers who simply do the best they can with the limited resources they have. The children of these fathers only know what they experience, and may perhaps one day understand why dad is the way he is.

Thirdly, and most important is my Heavenly Father. We forget that on this day we also celebrate the only perfect Father. From the moment of our baptism we are incorporated into Christ and become fully the adopted sons and daughters of God. As I look back now I can see how even from a young age it was the not knowing my biological father, and the imperfection of my adoptive father, that caused me to draw close and hold on tight to my Heavenly Father.

I can also see now the men God placed in my life as spiritual fathers, from Mr. Ingram who when I was young and hardly walked, would pick me and carry me in his shoulders, through Cardinal Miguel Obando because of whom I am a Catholic and a priest, to my best friend's dad, who when my father passed away in 1999, reminded me I still had a dad.

In the Church there are no orphans, there are no unwanted children. For Christians there is no such thing as a single parent household. Just as Mary is truly our Mother, God is truly our Father.

As we celebrate Fathers today, I would encourage every man to open his heart, to that voice of God, and ask, "Is God calling me to be the instrument of his paternal love to some child?" —That every child through us may truly feel and know the love of Our Father.