19 March, Friday — Fathers In Faith

Friday of the 4th Week of Lent

2 Sam 7:4-5,12-14,16
Rm 4:13,16-18,22
Mt 1:16,18-21,24

…he did become the father of all nations.

Today’s readings have two themes running in parallel — fatherhood and faith. Being single, and of an age where I am 99% certain I will never experience the joys and despairs of fatherhood, I have come to admire many of my friends who already have children who are working adults; in fact, I think we recently had our first grandfather. Listening to their tales of how they had to struggle, and the sacrifices they had to make as they were establishing their own careers while bringing up the kids (of course, with the support of loving spouses), I sometimes wonder what sort of father I would have made.

I wonder if Abraham and St Joseph had those same thoughts in their minds when they found out, rather incredulously, that they were going to be fathers themselves. I am quite sure it would have taken a lot of faith for them to ‘bite the bullet’ (or whatever the phrase was in those times) and assume their roles when the time came — ‘he hoped, and he believed’ (Rm 4:18).

One wonders whether fatherhood came naturally to them (does it ever??), and whether they embraced their new-found roles wholeheartedly. What is telling is how we never read of their struggles and sacrifices thereafter — we only get a sense of the legacy each one leaves behind. We all know about Ishmael, Isaac and a certain ‘son of the carpenter’ but I wonder about the actual influence Abraham and St Joseph had on their sons’ lives as they were growing up. I recall with fondness spending time with my own father during my teenage years, playing squash with his friends every Saturday when they would meet up after work (yes, they worked half day on Saturdays back then). Those were enjoyable times when dad would school me on all manner of ‘life’ subjects.

Today’s response — His dynasty shall last for ever — reminds me of how, though childless, I continue to honour my late father’s legacy. Strangely enough, I now have three colleagues who used to work for my father, and they sometimes recall with fondness when he used to ‘school’ them at work. They have remarked that I bear more than a passing resemblance in my manner of speaking, how I interact with people, and how I deal with difficult situations at work. Initially, these comments surprised me; but, I have gradually taken them to heart as a sign of me carrying on his legacy. Indeed, the apple has seemed not to fall far from the tree.

And while I continue to labour in faith (I constantly question myself, especially within ministry), I believe that there is no other way around all the mountains, obstacles, hurdles and personalities we will encounter — we must believe that God, our Father, is ALWAYS with us. For me, it is a faith that is borne out of encountering Christ more than a few times over the years — in retreats, in P&W sessions, and in quieter moments I have afforded myself. And while these encounters may merely be ‘a drop in the ocean’ compared to the time St Joseph spent with Christ, I can assure everyone that they are times to be cherished — just like the times dad spent with me.

Brothers and sisters, the next time a ‘role’ is thrust upon you, whether at work, at home or in ministry, don’t doubt yourself. Just doubt your doubts and have faith that God, our heavenly Father, is with us every step of the way.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Dearest Father, you only want us to bask and soak in your eternal love as your sons and daughters. Help us to seek you out in all that we do, all that we encounter, and all who we meet as we journey towards your heavenly kingdom.

Thanksgiving:  Thank you, O faithful Father, for your loving graces and for helping us to understand the legacies we are leaving here on earth.

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