Here is my homily for last week. God bless each of you!
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
June 19/20, 2021
Job 1:1, 8-11; 2 Cor. 5:14-17; Mark 4:7-16
I don’t know how many men here today were in high school during the late 1960s and early 1970s. I was. There was a lot of turbulence in our country. Social unrest, race riots, a general loss of faith in government, in family and fatherhood, and social structures. Boys rebelled against their fathers. Fathers were frustrated with their sons.
What was on our minds during those high school years men? Well, there was always girls, and getting out of high school, and sports, and… yes, in the back of our minds the looming possibility of being drafted into and dying in a very unpopular war in Viet Nam.
It was a time that sorely tested our faith. It was a time of loss of authority.
Yes, when storms rage, we want and need someone in whom we can place our faith, someone who will come in and calm those storms and end those wars, someone with authority.
We want and need fathers. Trustworthy fathers. Admirable fathers. Fathers who lead, who step into the breach and defend their families.
We hear our own voices in our responsorial psalm: “They cried to the Lord in their distress; from their straits he rescued them.” (Psalm 107:28)
We hear the voice of the Father in the reading from Job: “Thus far you shall come but no farther; and here shall your proud waves be stilled.” (Job 38:11)
Sons cry out to their fathers in their distress and long to hear their dads say to the storm: Come no farther. Be still!
Sons long to admire their fathers like we heard in the Gospel: “They were filled great awe and said to one another: ‘Who is this whom even the wind and sea obey?’”
Fathers, we have a great responsibility — to wield authority for one main purpose: to protect and guide our families. That purpose does not include wielding authority for our personal gain. Fathers, we must be willing to sacrifice any plan we may have of self-promotion, and become servants of our families, leading and guiding and protecting our families.
Fathers we must be willing to say to anything or anyone who threatens our families: “Thus far shall you come and no farther.” We must be willing to say to the storm: “Quiet! Be still!”
Fathers, we know that violent storms are out there that can and will lead our children astray. It is too easy to say nothing. It is too easy to go along to get along. It is too easy for us to give up our authority, and leave our families unprotected.
Fathers, the authority that is ours come from God to be used to serve our families. We must not expect to be served. We must never expect our families to serve us. We must serve them. If we get that right, then our authority will be known and respected.
Remember, as St. Paul said in the second reading, it is the love of Christ that impels us — dare I say compels us? — to be good fathers. We wield our authority out of love! Only out of love! Never to protect our own egos! Always for the good of our families!
Fathers, we are not kings. We are shepherds. Any good shepherd will fight fiercely at times to protect his flock. Kings have armies to fight for them. Shepherds fight their own battles. We must be shepherds, not kings! But we must be shepherds!
“Step into the breach!” as one bishop put it. Plug the gaps. Don’t let what is destructive enter your homes. Reform your lines of defense. Do not cower! Do not withdraw! Be willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with other fathers. Waves are breaking over your boats and filling them. You do not want your children saying, like the apostles said, “Do you not care we are perishing?”
Finally, Fathers, I believe that the strength of our children’s faith in God and fidelity to the Church is grounded in the strength of their faith in their fathers. Many of us have experienced one of more of our children leave the practice of the faith, and it shakes us to the core. It hurts us deeply. If though, we renew our commitment to embrace our fatherly authority and live it out as best we can, the faith of our children in God and Church will rekindle. It is not the only thing that will bring them back, but it is an important piece, the part we can do.
Fathers, thank you for being good dads. Thank you for being men, men who teach their sons to be men, men who teach their daughters to be women, and men who love your wives.
May God bless you abundantly!