June 16/17, 2007

11th Sunday Ordinary Time Cycle C
2 Sam. 12:7-10, 13 Ps. 32 Gal. 2:15-16, 19-20 Lk. 7:36-8:3

Transformation as a Challenge to the "Status Quo" or Understanding Forgiveness and Reconciliation as Transformations Toward Healing

It’s “Father’s Day” weekend. However, we live in a world in which some fathers have hurt their wife or have neglected responsibilities to their children and family. There is hurt; there is brokenness; there are wounds to be healed! “Father’s Day ties in with God, the forgiving Father – the forgiving parent in today’s gospel reading. Before attempting to connect “Father’s Day” to the forgiving and reconciling God, I would like us to understand the question, “Who is a father?” What makes a father, a dad? Is there any difference between a father and a dad? Yes, any man can be a father, but not all fathers are dads. It takes a special person – a special interest, gift and the will to be a true dad to one’s children or family.

God, for example, is neither male nor female. God is a spirit. Yet Jesus calls God, “Father.” Why? It is because a father – a true dad KEEPS the home, whilst a mother MAKES the home. God was there for Jesus, and Jesus had faith in God. Hence, Jesus called God “Abba, Father.” “Abba” is equivalent to modern day English “dad” or “daddy.” However, in the absence of good fathers and dads in certain homes in today’s world, we realize a sharp decrease in faith and trust in men. The absence of a father figure in the home or in the family set-up poses many challenges to the heart and mind of a growing child. Fathers should never ever neglect their responsibilities to their children. However, in a world where media and society adore bizarre lifestyles and images of celebrities; in a world where society readily accepts divorce and break-up [Hollywood episodes], how would a true father figure remain authentic in public eyes and practice of morality?

Indeed, a father’s love is obviously different from a mother’s love; yet a child needs both the presence and comfort zone of the father and the mother in the same way as our body needs blood and water, proteins and carbohydrates to sustain a balanced and healthy growth.

Perhaps divorce and break-ups or separations warrant some declaration of children’s right after divorce indicating that every child has a right to a mother and a father. We all know that children need mom and dad as their primary role models in the home.

It is “Father’s Day. We realize however that many women are forced into being single mothers – sometimes by circumstances beyond their control. Should we not remind ourselves today that ideally every family must consist of father, mother and child? Let us pause now, and pray for divorced couples and for those whose marriage is rocky grounds [pause]. Lord God, show your face upon them. Amen!

In every broken home or relationship, there is a need for pardon, reconciliation, forgiveness and healing. Father’s Day then ties in perfectly with the healing encounter between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Recall how Jesus did not condemn Mary Magdalene! Recall how Jesus’ hand touched and healed and transformed Mary Magdalene! The experience reminds us of how “forgiveness and reconciliation transform our identity from the status quo. Now, I invite you to sit back, listen and reflect on this music “Daddy’s Hand” by Holly Dunn [play CD].

There is always love in God’s hand. As fathers or as dads, our body, minds, voice, mouth, heart, eyes, ears, hands and feet are the first places our children find comfort and protection.

As a father – as a dad, are your hands the hands that care, caress and comfort your children? Are your hands full of love and compassion and ready to protect? Are your hands the ones that put food on the table, and sacrifice for the livelihood and growth of our children? Are your hands the ones that take your child into the bosom when afraid and terrified – making them feel at home yet again? Are your eyes the ones that see incredible charm and beauty in your children even in their imperfections? Can your children read from your mind that you are full of joy for them, and immersed in the mystery of seeing each one of them?

Transformation demands challenging or becoming counter-cultural to the status quo. Let’s recall how Jesus did not condemn Mary Magdalene but helped her towards healing and transformation. So, if you are a father – a man who could be a dad, do you see yourself in any of the attributes from the song, “Daddy’s Hands” in which there was always love? How does or has your behaviour towards your children, wife and family become a mystery of transformation and healing? As a father – as a dad, how do you see yourself as the “pillar,” the “tree,” or the “stem on which the “branches” – that is your wife and children can depend on and find hope just as you and I depend and hope in God, our Creator. I urge you now to be “the man” in your home and for your spiritual wellbeing of your children and family!

God is ever faithful to us; God cares about us – always. Let us pray now that all fathers may remain faithful to their responsibilities to their family and children. We pray also that God would grant them physical, mental, psychological, moral strength and financial capabilities that would allow such men to provide for their family and not run away or neglect their moral obligations. We beseech God God’s grace upon all fathers and dads to remain role models in their children’s lives. We pray for the gift to heal for children whose father denied, refused or have refused any responsibility towards them either from conception or quite regrettably through divorce and separation. May our hearts also reach out to single mothers at this time, especially those in our families, those we know or are parishioners in our parish. Lord, you know the vacuum that exists in families where there is no presence of a father or dad. We pray that you become ever tangible in the lives of single mothers and their children; that you heal and transform them from their moments of pain to moments of hope. We thank you Lord God for granting our prayers. Amen.

Father John-Baptist Okai
Priest Moderator
St. Cecilia Parish, Regina SK Canada