I lovingly remember my Dad, Ben, big brother to his seven sisters and one brother. He was a complex, multifaceted man: a scholar who when young also worked to organize a labor union where he worked when he saw inequities; a public school psychologist who also worked for free in Catholic schools; a gentle man who was a tough boxer when he was young; a man who worked hard for justice and peace. He was a loving father who'd engage me in long discussions about anything and everything, and my solid supporter in all I did.
My father taught me lessons about life that have constantly encouraged and challenged me: about faith - in addition to Church-going, he prayed his daily Novena to St. Joseph, kept on his dresser; about self-sacrificial love - he worked long hours to keep his family financially afloat; about values - the importance of a good education, self-discipline, moral and physical courage. He died when he was only sixty-two. How much I miss him!
More than ever today, this world needs strong, mature fathers. Men who are principled, disciplined, protectors of their wives and children, faithful spouses. Men who raise both daughters and sons with strength and tenderness and encouragement. Men who value teaching their children good values, instead of simply appeasing them with more and more possessions. Men who remember that God is Father to all and learn how to be fathers by knowing and understanding how God is a Father. A Father Who loves us into existence. A Father Who challenges us to be holy. A Father Who can forgive.
Psalm 68 also speaks of God as "Father of the fatherless, defender of widows...who gives a home to the forsaken, who leads prisoners out to prosperity..." A true father doesn't just protect and defend his own "homestead" - he looks to father, protect and defend all in the community, regardless of race, religion, disabilities, or social class. Need I say that we'd have better politicians if they were better fathers above all?
Fathers, you are valued, you are needed. May you and your households always serve the Lord!