The human father is the link between our God and earth. All fatherhood gets its name from God the father. God has chosen us and He pursues us in His call for greatness. The call is for us to act as His voice, provide His touch; in short to identify us as the image of God the father to our offspring. Just as God is generous, mindful and loving, He has called us, as fathers, to be the same. Our vision of God the Father determines our fatherhood. We are an expression of God’s glory on earth. Once called to fatherhood by the Father, it is our most important vocation.
Our most vivid example of the patriarchal vision of fatherhood can be found in St Joseph. Humbly, silently, kindly and lovingly he fed bread to the Bread of Life.
We often identify the role of the father as the one who steps in, fixes whatever is broken, completes the repairs, and most of all, provides the financial means for the family. We call this “bringing home the bacon” or “ putting bread on the table”. Certainly, fatherhood means all that but it means much, much more.
In 1 Tim 5:8, St Paul implores us to be good providers for all our relations, but especially for our immediate family. And in 1 Thessalonians 2, he gives many characteristics of a good provider. The father serves as a good model; acts with gentleness; cares for and loves others; takes delight in his children; shares and gives of himself; faces hardships; works hard; teaches the gospel; behaves in a holy, righteous, and blameless manner; offers discipline; possesses courage; offers comfort and encouragement, and has faith.
In short, being the provider means encouraging, comforting and urging our offspring to live lives worthy of God.
Being a good provider means being a person of encouragement. The very first way we encourage our children is by giving them a good name. In Proverbs 22:1, we are told a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches and favor, it is better than silver or gold. We establish a name our children can be proud to bear, simply by the way we live. Having a good name is worth more than a handsome inheritance. In fact, it is a wonderful inheritance..
It doesn’t matter how hard or how bad a situation gets, a good father gives encouragement. If our children don”t get encouragement from us, where are they going to get it? It is one of the ways we really do provide for them.
A good father provides comfort for his children. The term derives from two Latin words “cum” and “forte” meaning “with courage”. Comfort is not an attempt to make things easy. Comfort is availability. Present when his children need him providing a sense of security. Alongside providing the strength and comfort of his presence, he is the calm in the storm when everyone else is going crazy.
No, its never over. Once you become a parent, it is for life. You love your children so much and they grow, go away, get married, have babies, and there are just more and more to love. You can’t take their pain away for them, all you can do is be there for them.
Remember this, Our children don’t belong to us, they belong to God. He gives them to us for 20 years or so and then He takes them back. We can do everything we know to do, but we have no guarantee that all will turn out as it should.
This article concludes our series on Fatherhood. Unfortunately, should my appointment go through as Financial Secretary, it will also conclude my service as your Lector. Thanks for the many comments and feedback I have received concerning this series…all were greatly appreciated.