We were unable to offer the Mass of Corpus Christi this past Thursday, but the instructions in the traditional Roman Missal provide for the possibility of offering the Mass of that Feast on this Sunday with its Octave. On the secular calendar, today is also Fathers’ Day, so congratulations to those of you who are fathers. If your Latin is good, you may have noticed that the third collect this morning was for all of our deceased fathers and mothers. If you are fortunate to have your father still among the living, be sure to go and see him, or at least give him a call on the telephone.
Very often, on First Fridays, we offer the Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (which feast day falls this Friday), and we hear Saint Paul telling the Ephesians: “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth is named” What Paul, in effect, is saying, is that fatherhood is something that has its origins in God Himself, and that all other fathers are given that title in subordination to God the Father. We know that, even before the existence of time itself, the First Person of the blessed Trinity, by the perfect knowledge of Himself, begot the Second Person, whom we know as “the Word” in Saint John’s Gospel. Because of this relationship of the One begetting the Other, we speak of God the Father and God the Son.
It should not surprise us, then, that when God determined to make His material creatures, He did so in such a way that living beings could share His productive grace of Fatherhood. What we might find curious, is that all of the angels that will ever be, were created by God in one instant—the angels have no children; they are neither father nor mother to anyone. Saint Paul seems also to touch on this in that same letter to the Ephesians. He speaks of God assigning him, “the least of all the saints ... to preach ... the unsearchable riches of Christ” And his preaching is to enlighten us so that we “may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God who created all things.”
The suggestion is that this teaching is not just for the benefit of mankind, but that the children of the Church will even make these truths of God known to “the principalities and the powers of heaven.” That is a staggering concept when you consider it—it is not the Father, nor the Christ, but the Church, the human generation of mankind, that is to make known “the manifold wisdom of God” to the angels. We are created “a little less than the angels,” but somehow those more perfect creatures of God are to learn from the generations of mankind something about the “wisdom of God,” and the “riches of Christ.”
It was a loving Father who sent His Son into the world, “that we might believe in Him and not perish, but rather have life everlasting.” It was the living Father who “sent down the Bread from Heaven, of which we may eat and live forever.” It was the Father who sent the Son. “It was the will of the Father that the Son should lose none of those who had been given to him, but that they would believe in Him , and He would raise them up on the last day.” It was the Father who sent the Son into the world that this productive human generation might become His adopted sons and daughters, to raise up future generations for the praise and glory of His name. God is glorified in the multitude and the obedience of His creatures.
We know that the Son of God had no human father—at least not in the biological sense—to bring about the “conception of Jesus Christ, the blessed Virgin Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost.” Yet God was careful to provide Mary with a protector, and her divine Son with a mentor in the person of Saint Joseph. Rather than surround the infant Jesus with legions of angels wielding thunderbolts, God confided His Son to the protection of the strong right arm of a carpenter; a craftsman whose ethics and humility would shape the earthly disposition of His Son; a great-great-grandson of David the prophet who would teach the Messias His first psalms and prayers; Joseph, who would bring Him to Jerusalem, to the Temple where He would “be about His Father’s business.”
If we, as earthly fathers, are to raise children and grand-children who will inform even the “the principalities and the powers” about the “wisdom of God,” and the “riches of Christ”—even if we are simply concerned with bringing up good citizens and good Catholic sons and daughters, we must be like God the Father, “of whom all fatherhood ... is named." That, of course, is a tall order. And it might be simpler if we follow some earthly model.
There can be no better human model for fathers than Saint Joseph, the foster father of our Lord. The Scriptures tell us little about him: He was “a just man,” says Saint Matthew. To that we can add “brave,” for we know that he took Jesus and Mary into a strange land to escape King Herod. Certainly, his willingness to raise a Child not his own because it was the will of God, tells us that he was both “holy” and “humble” as well as “obedient.” As the holy husband of the Mother of God, his “charity” and “chastity” are self evident. Likewise “industriousness,” “patience,” “determination,” and “strength” must be assigned to the carpenter who supported the Holy Family by the sweat of his brow.
So, once again, fathers, congratulations on your day. Remember that you are in good company—that your fatherhood is based upon the Fatherhood of God, and that you have the most holy Saint Joseph as your patron and your guide,
 John vi: 58-59.
 Ephesians iii: 14-15.
 Ephesians iii: 8-11.
 Cf. John iii: 15.
 Cf. John vi: 58-59.
 Cf John vi: 37-40
 Cf. Preface of Saint Joseph.
 Matthew i: 19.
 Matthew ii: 13-19.
 Matthew i: 18-24.