October 25, 2020

All fatherhood comes from God (cf. Ephesians 3:14-15), but us men seem reluctant to embrace it and live it—we prefer to remain as little boys, being fed by our mothers and playing with our toys and silly games. Yet women call us to sacrifice ourselves and to open ourselves up to that fatherhood of God, which Jesus revealed to us, as do good fathers.

God is Father! He engenders the Son through love. As father, he acknowledges the Word as his Son at his Baptism in the Jordan River: “a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased’” (Luke 3:22; cf. John 8:42). True fathers manifest their good pleasure in each son and daughter, loving and taking glory in each child (cf. John 1:14; 3:35; 8:54; 14:13; 15:8; 17:1-4), independent of how a child responds. This acknowledges the child’s special, inalienable relationship to him and their mother that identifies each child forever. Consequently, the Father provides for his children, including feeding them with knowledge of God’s teachings (cf. Matthew 6:25-34; 7:7-11; 10:28-31; 11:25-27; John 6:32,45; 14:26).

A good father teaches his children by:

  1. His example of hard work; Jesus imitates his heavenly Father, doing “good works” that give glory to [the] Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16; cf. John 5:17-23; 31-38; 8:38; 10:22-39; 14:10-12).
  2. Rewarding his children’s good deeds (cf. Matthew 6:1-8; 16-18).
  3. Being merciful and generous with the good- and evil-doers alike (cf. Luke 6:27-36; Matthew 6:14-15; 18:23-35; 25:31-46). Jesus reveals that his Father loves each of us as the father of the Prodigal Son, ready to forgive and to mercifully welcome the sinful child home—with great pleasure!—re-elevating the child to sonship (Luke 15:11-32).

In a special way Jesus had to teach Peter what it means to be a father over God’s family, the Church. When Jesus asked the apostles, “Who do men say that I am?”—they respond with various opinions, as teenage boys would. But Peter chimes in, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then Jesus explains to Peter, “flesh and blood—your brains—hasn’t figured this out, but my Father in heaven has revealed this to you” (see Matthew 16:13-20). Peter is to become a father over the Church by becoming like Jesus, who also says: “I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me. And… I always do what is pleasing to him” (John 8:28-29; 12:49-50). In other words, God the Father conveys fatherhood to men and reveals the truth to guide their lives through faith. Faith allows us to share in God’s authority, in God’s fatherhood, to feed his children by teaching what the Father teaches. This responsibility may seem difficult. Jesus simply asks Peter, “do you love me?” That’s what it takes: faith and a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. With such a relationship, a father will “feed his lambs and sheep,” and lay down his life for them (cf. John 21:15-23; 10:1-21).

This divine fatherhood given to Peter is the rock upon which the Church is built, “and the powers of death shall not prevail against it,” because a true father provides for his family and protects them from the evil one. Each family is meant to build upon faith and God’s fatherhood, who gives his earthly representative “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

May all—spiritual, adoptive, and biological—fathers generously fulfill this great calling.

Yours In Christ,
Fr. John Waiss