On the civil calendar, today is Fathers’ Day—so congratulations to all those of you who are fathers. If you are fortunate enough to have your father still among the living, this would be a good time to go and visit him, or to give him a call on the phone. Living or dead, be sure to pray for him. If your Latin is good, you may have noticed that the third collect today was the Church’s official prayer for deceased mothers and fathers.
Just this past Friday we celebrated the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in which Saint Paul referred to the Fatherhood of God as being an exemplar for all fatherhood, in heaven and on earth. “All fatherhood receives its name form the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is a very powerful concept, in that it suggests that all good fathers are participating in a plan that God established from all eternity.
By virtue of Christian revelation, we can say that God’s fatherhood existed before all creation. Each time we recite the Creed at Mass, we affirm that God the Son was “born of the Father before all ages.... Begotten not made; of one being with the Father.” Our limited terminology has difficulty dealing with concepts that took place “before all ages”—we strain to think about a “time before time began,” just as we strain to think of the Son of God being “begotten and not created”—but it is not difficult for us to think about the Father having a Son, because God created us along the same lines. Our fathers and mothers had sons and daughters—all the way back to Adam and Even—and, hopefully, for a long time into the future. The very first thing we hear about the creation of the human race is that “God created man in His own image ... male and female he created them, and He blessed them saying «increase and multiply.»” Fatherhood and Motherhood are God’s plan.
We read in Saint John’s Gospel that the Word was with God in the beginning ... and the Word was God ... and nothing was made that was not created through the Word. Here again we see the exemplar of human relationships. It is the most natural thing in the world for sons to help their fathers with the family business, precisely because it is the way things were done in heaven from the very beginning. God further gave us the example of His own Son, adopted by Saint Joseph. Jesus was a helper to Joseph; but undeniably, Joseph was Jesus’ protector, and provider, and teacher with regard to the things of the world.
Joseph is wonderful example for those great men who look to the raising of other mens’ children in their absence, equally deserving to be called “fathers,” for biology is a relatively small part of the job which goes on for decades if properly attended to. Fathers’ day and Mothers’ day honors all of those men and women who have given of their substance, time, and effort to see to it that children are raised to be good Christians and good citizens.
We see a similar thing in that Gospel of Saint John, for in the very same passage, we read that this Word of God took human flesh and human form, and gave those who received Him the power of becoming sons of God. For just as a child needs a human father to guide him in the ways of earthly life, God adopts us as our heavenly Father to teach us the ways of eternal life. Saint Peter writes about it so well in this morning’s Epistle: “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God; cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” God has compassion on His children—but, perhaps even more importantly, God is a Father who will raise His children well: “after you have suffered a little, He Himself will perfect you and confirm you and establish you.”
On this Fathers’ Day, then, let us not forget to pray for our own parents, who gave us life. If you are a father, strive to imitate Saint Joseph, who so perfectly imitated the Fatherhood of God Himself—strive for compassion and justice, for truth, and above all, for love. And whether you are a father or not, give thanks to Almighty God who has chosen to be our Father. Make Him proud of you as Christian sons and daughters; be His humble children “so that He may exalt you in the time of visitation.”
 Epistle of the feast of the Sacred Heart: Ephesians iii: 8-12; 14-19.
 Genesis i: 27-28.
 Cf John i: 1-15
 Cf. 1 Peter v: 6-11.
Thou hast commanded us, O Lord, to honor our father and mother. In Thy kindness, have mercy on the souls of my father and my mother, forgive them their sins, and grant that I may see them again in the joy of the eternal life. This we ask ...
Receive, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the sacrifice which I offer up to Thee on behalf of the souls of my father and mother; grant them everlasting joy in the land of the living, and in company with them let me share in the happiness of the saints.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, that this heavenly sacrament of which we have partaken, may win rest and light everlasting for the souls of my father and mother, and by means of it I may be crowned with them by Thy grace for evermore.