Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Father's Love

If I live to be a hundred, I will never understand why some children treat their parents the way they sometimes do. “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother” was a Commandment by Christ, not a suggestion.

A good friend of mine has not spoken with his son in eleven years. They’re estranged. What a terrible word. Estranged means to be removed from usual surroundings and to become strangers to one another. He has told me there is no acceptable reason for this silence of one of his lambs. But, whatever it might be must never thumb its nose at that Commandment. Never.

It saddened me to think that my friend had helped create a child, held him in his arms, taken him to school, taught him to play ball, fed him, clothed him, laughed with him, cried with him, watched him grow and, then, felt him slowly drift away. Was this the reward for becoming a father?

Keenly aware that he did not want to anger his son as St. Paul warned in his letter to the Colossians, “Fathers do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged ”, he traveled to the city where his son worked to find out what was wrong. He was also well aware of the first part of that warning of St. Paul: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord ” (Colossians 3: 20-21) Tough call, but good for him.

It is the teaching of my Christian faith that “divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood.” * (“ For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named ” ) ( Ephesians 3:14-15). “This is the foundation of the honor owed to the parents. It is required by God’s Commandment.” * ( “Honor your father and your mother that you may live a long life in the land which your God is giving you ) (Exodus 20:12)

“Respect for parents comes from gratitude towards those who, by the gift of life, their love and their work, have brought their children into the world and enabled them to grow in stature, wisdom and grace.” *(“ Remember that through your parents you were born; what can you give back that equals their gift to you?”) ( Sirach 7:27-28) (* Cathechism of the Catholic Church )

No one will doubt or challenge that mothers and fathers deserve respect. Much of what I’ve quoted from the Bible and my church’s teaching will surely resonate with many of you. We need simply look around today to see the collapse of the family through divorce, drugs, scandal, what have you. The moral fabric of our society is badly frayed.

Some may argue that something must have happened to cause this parting of their ways. Indeed, obviously, there was something that this father could not fathom and is why he sought out his son. He claimed he was not aware of anything he might have done to cause this rupture, but would offer apologies nonetheless and ask forgiveness if need be. If his son is embarrassed and is shielding him from some grief, he needs to know so that he may offer comfort. But, overriding all of this speculation is the profound truth that children must respect their parents and parents must love their children.

“He who honors his father atones for sins; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. He who honors his father is gladdened by children and when he prays he is heard. He who reveres his father will live a long life. He obeys the Lord who brings comfort to his mother”(Sirach 3: 2-6)

Love is a powerful force and prayer is even stronger. Together, they have been known to make miracles.

Let’s pray for that, since he never connected with his son.