A Christian Father Teaches and Guides His Children with Love and PatienceThe beauty of Fatherhood is celebrated in June in a day of thanksgiving to all living and deceased fathers. While some may have little memories of their father or may have not had the blessing of a good father and role model in their life, the ideals of what a father should be is clearly listed within the Christian tradition. A father while always the discplinary is also the protector, provider and teacher of the Christian family. Yet within this profound vocational call, a true father does no rule with fear but respect as he gently teaches and guides his children with a tender love and patience. With the strength and power of a lion, a Christian father also possesses the most meek and tender touch and love for his children.
The Christian father’s ultimate paradigm is St. Joseph, who protected and provided for the Holy Family. In Christ’s early years, he was the standard and role model for the human nature of Christ to emulate and imitate. No man has ever been called to a greater honor than St. Joseph. It was to St. Joseph the task to mentor the young Christ in the ways of the temporal world. While little is mentioned in Scripture of Joseph’s and Jesus’ relationship, we can with certitude believe that it was a model father and son relationship. Of course, Joseph’s was not the biological father of Christ, but this does not take away from his fatherhood of Jesus.
Jesus’ divine Father was not the biological father of Christ either but a symbolic relation between the Father and Son found in the Holy Trinity. Yet, again, Christian Fatherhood finds another paradigm in God the Father. Through the analogy of fatherhood, the love of the Creator is shown to mankind. God the father, as father of Israel, guided, taught and loved his children. As a father, he also on numerous times reprimanded his sinful children, but his love was so great that he would not leave his children to die but would send the 2nd Person of the Trinity and die for his own children. Of course it was not the 1st Person who died on the cross, but since the substance of God is shared equally between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we can say God did die for his children on the cross. With such love, does a father love his own children!
Jesus also taught that it is through himself that we may know the Father. The idea of the 1st Person as a father was emphasized by Christ. Only three times in the Old Testament is God referred as a father but in the New Testament, the 1st Person is referred to father over two-hundred times. Jesus refers to his father as “Abba” which in Aramaic means father, or more closely translated, “daddy”. Through this teaching, Christ wanted mankind to know that God is a father. While God is still an omnipotent being and the creator of the universe, he still wanted people to approach God as a child. It is truly amazing to think that Christ would reveal the great Majesty and King, as also our Father. This did not mean we should not bow and worship the most Omnipotent One, but it does show that his love for us is so great that he sees us as children and not subjects. This is fatherhood–authority with love.
The best way Christ illustrated the fatherhood of God over his creation was in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Here we find an ungrateful son, who spurns his father, wastes his inheritance and begs for his father’s forgiveness. As we all know in the story, the father embraces his son, dresses him in the finest linens, slays the fatten cow and has a great celebration that his son returned. In this story, one can see the true love and mercy a father shows his children. The love a father shows to his children is one embedded with power but yet also mercy.
I would like to close with one last aspect regarding the fatherhood of God but in relation to God’s fathership with Christ. While this closing segment is less pastoral and more theological, I think it is important to understand. While we cannot look at Christ as two separate individuals, but one person, sometimes it is good to analyze the components of Christ. First, Christ as God is only Son in relation to the Father. Christ as a co-sharer in the divine nature, the ideal of fatherhood and sonhood is relational and analogous. The human nature of Christ, however, is a unique situation where a created person with his own soul was fused to the 2nd Person of the Trinity. In this regard, within the Hypostatic Union of Christ, there truly does exist a fatherhood and sonhood. I find this very beautiful and in this way, Christ shares his father with us.
Happy Fathers day and may all fathers emulate the values of true fatherhood that is found in our God, and in St. Joseph.
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Mark Moran, MA, GC-C, SCC-C