Psalm 145:8-9, 13-14, 17-18
Realizing full well that that God, even God the Father, is not male in the way we understand the concept, I am moved by today’s readings from John’s Gospel to reflect on the relationship between fathers and sons these days. My own son turned thirty last month. When I called to remind him of the adage from the Sixties that anyone over thirty is not to be believed, I realized that this milestone in his life did not make me feel old so much as it made him seem old to me. Somehow reaching thirty establishes him much more as his own man, well along in the journey of his own life, evermore distant from the place where I had a hand in the direction he took. I remember the challenge of being father those days. I recall that the old relational model, the one on which I had been raised, the one described by Turgenev as the inherent “shame” between fathers and sons, was not of much help. Even less so were new, confusing societal messages that criticized the role of men in society, of fathers in the family.
Jesus the Son, who often called his Father “Abba” (that is, “Daddy”), again shows the way in this elementally human concern. To be father is to strive to be a role model of how to live a good life; to be son is to appreciate the struggle. To be father is to honor and value one’s son; to be son is to honor and value one’s father. To be father is to allow one’s son the freedom at some point to make his own decisions; to be son is to make those decisions carefully and respectfully. Above all, the relationship between father and son is based on love that forgives and endures unconditionally, whatever the pressures of the times.
I confess to not understanding all of this during the sometimes tumultuous
days of raising my son. Even so, I know that I always loved him and
can still tell him so, regardless of his accumulating years and supposedly
declining credibility. And tonight in prayer, I will be thankful
for that precious relationship. Likewise, I will rejoice with gratitude
to God the Father for accepting me as son, for sending Jesus Christ to
be my role model, for the way He honors and values my life, and for His
unconditional love and forgiveness on which I depended today and will again
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