By Madeleine Naleski, The Catholic University of America
One of the greatest truths within our collective faith is that family is the building block of society. Each person within a family plays a very specific role within the community, which directly transfers to their role within the entirety of God’s creation. The father of a family is the role which I will discuss now.
If you were to ask a child why they love their dad, you may solicit responses such as “because he is nice” or “because he is funny”. Through scripture, it is clear that this model of fatherhood is exactly what God had in mind when He created men who are called to be fathers. Consider Psalm 103:13: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him”. Men called to fatherhood are meant to love their children in a way that is much like how God loves each of us. An earthly father exists as a reflection of our Heavenly Father. The earthly father’s central role is to love his family, and he can do this through his words and actions. Even at a young age, those children who have present fathers are witnesses of God’s plan for His men.
As these children grow older and become more aware, they may start to reassess their answers to “why do you love your dad?”. Many teenagers eventually begin to realize that their fathers provide for the family and protect the unit in totality. Just as God the Father provided Jesus with the tools necessary to evangelize the worst of sinners and never left Him ill-equipped, so too do our earthly fathers provide for their families. They may not be able to perform miracles, but they can do work and raise funds for their families so that survival is possible. They also provide emotional and spiritual support as they are traditionally “head” of the household and are called to lead the family in truth. Just as God the Father protected Jesus from evil, so too does the earthly father protect the family by warning them against temptation.
This protection does not come through a lack of spirituality. In fact, it is due to the inherent nature of a father as the head of the family to be a leader in spirituality to his wife and children. Again in Scripture, God’s design for fatherhood is revealed through the relationship between Jesus and God the Father. In Jesus’ darkest hours before His crucifixion, He asks for guidance and mercy from the Lord. In a similar way, our earthly fathers serve as our spiritual leaders, guiding us toward the peace and wisdom of our Lord.
Again, we must look into all duties of an earthly father in remembering that the most important task of the earthly father is to love his family. To be assured that God’s plan is perfect, we can look to the Lord’s prayer and see exactly in which ways our Heavenly Father shines through our earthly fathers.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.”
Indeed, God’s will is done through other people on earth, but certain people are designed to reveal specific characteristics of God, like provision and spiritual leadership. The designated people for this important revelation are our fathers on earth. As the responsibility is very great, so is the reward.
This Father’s Day, be sure to reflect on how your father has been a reflection of Christ in your life, and pray for continue to pray for God’s presence to be revealed to you through your father on earth.