Zechariah 12:10-12, 13:1; Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9; Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24
Today in the US we celebrate Father’s Day. So my remarks are more in that area. We have so much work to do with fathers. With 50 to 60 % of our marriages separated and children growing up without a father we have a big problem and a lot of healing work to do with children.
I want to recommend the book by John Trent and Gary Smalley, “The BLESSING.” I also want to recommend their study guide for small groups. A father can do a “Father’s Watch Group” to support other fathers in their neighborhood or parish, “men encouraging other young fathers” or “iron sharpening iron.” Start small and get your “fish net” our to catch other men. This book shows how a Jewish father blessed his sons. Yet don’t forget that mothers need to do similar things for all their children especially their daughters. God is the father of us all and parents have God’s children on “loan” for some 20 years to nurture, protect and raise.
The first responsibility of a husband is to love, care and provide for and protect his wife. With children and all their later activities, parents often forget why God brought them together in marriage. It is a lifelong journey to help each other get to heaven. Part of that process is weekly or frequent “date times” alone with each other to keep their love alive. A Marriage Encounter weekend helps with good ideas from other good parents. You also want to remember giving each other little gifts of affection, her favorite flower, a love card or his favorite meal, just to say I love you and not just for some special date. “I love you dear just because you are so beautiful and special.”
As I mention these five very important steps we must remember that both parents need to do these things yet in a slightly different way at different age levels. “Meaningful touch,” is first. Mothers do this most in earliest years but fathers should not be completely absent from this touching as a sign of affection. This loving touch changes with the age of each child. I don’t remember my father saying he loved me until I was in my twenties because he didn’t hear it from his father.
Second, children need to hear “Speaking audible words of Blessing and Honor” for each child. Without these special parental words a child is confused about their worth and identity. Abraham did this for his sons and grandsons.
The third element is, “Expressing High Value for each child.” Parents need to analyze the gifts, temperament and ability of each child. And it is critically important to never compare one child’s gifts and abilities with any other child in the family, for example, you aren’t as smart as Susie.” We can learn to use word pictures to express the value of each child. Each child is unique and beautiful in different ways.
The fourth area is, “Picturing a Special Future for each child.” Word pictures can be helpful. “May God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth…. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you,” Genesis 27:28-29.
The last is, “Active Commitment.” This concretizes the responsibility that goes with giving the blessing, not just the words. You “Your mother and I are here for you and believe in you and your good success in life.” That doesn’t mean that you want them at your home until they are fifty years old. Parents can learn from each other how to effectively do these for each of their unique and beautiful children. This will make each child grow up with a healthy and confident self-image and be more successful in life.
If we have missed receiving the special blessing from either of your parents, God often brings “substitute parent” into our life that can fill in for our missing parental love need, like hunting or fishing buddies. In our frequent prayer life God can provide for our needs and heal our broken past. We can be like Humpty Dumpty. He had a great fall and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Yet God can continue to heal us as our life moves on.
Remember that each Mass we attend is a Healing Mass. We touch Jesus and receive more of his power to heal us a communion time. May Jesus give you all an abundantly blessed week.
Peace and Blessed Father’s Day,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2016 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)