By the Charcoal Fire...

By the Charcoal Fire...

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Father I Will Never Be

My Homily for Sunday 4th October, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time in Year B

The Readings:
Genesis 2:18-24 
Hebrews 2:9-11 
Mark 10:2-16

My friends, it’s good to be home.

One of the best things about being a deacon is that I can finally baptise!
I’ve managed to baptise 8 children so far – and not one cried! I’ll let you in on a trade secret - it’s all about the temperature of the water! Cold water = baby cries. At least I’ve learned that much over the summer!

But I have also learned that there’s one huge sacrifice that I’ve had to make:

I’ll never have someone call me “Dad”.

Next year, as a priest, I’ll be a “father to many” but I’ll never be a dad to one or two.  There’s an awesome part of life that I’ll never experience. So I know I’m going out on a bit of a limb here by sharing what I think raising a child means but bear with me…

Raising a child has the power to fire within us the deepest and most powerful surges of love that we can ever experience in this life. Suddenly, we are forced to respond to another’s needs and so become less focused on our own.  Love for our child takes us beyond ourselves in a way that no other love can.

I saw this for myself over this past summer as I watched my parents journey with their only daughter from her diagnosis with a terminal illness to her death just four months later. I know I was blessed to witness in those few weeks their love for their child that was literally unbreakable.

What other relationship is like it? Despite what we hear in the readings this morning about the unity of man and woman in marriage and that what God joins together cannot be separated, the sad reality is that, in today’s society, marriages are breakable.

There is separation,
there is divorce,
even the very definition of marriage is being broken down and redefined.

But what cannot be broken is the relationship between a parent and their child. Even at its most basic level, there is a biological bond that cannot be changed, cannot be broken.

And yet, for all that, it’s only a very pale reflection of the love of the greatest parent-child relationship of them all –
the love that our Father in heaven has for us, His children.

God looks on us with our combination of helplessness, dependence, innocence, trust, vulnerability, all of our faults, all of our failings –

and He loves us.

In our love for our children we are given a privileged avenue to feel as God feels.
What father wouldn’t put themselves in harm’s way to protect his child? What mother wouldn’t give up her life to save the life of her child? God put His very self in harm’s way to save us. He literally gave up His life so we would be saved.
Just look at that cross – is that not what a father or mother would do for their child?

At the end of the Gospel today, Jesus tell us that the kingdom of God belongs to children. He gets annoyed when the disciples try to keep the children away from him. My friends, if we are His children, then that Kingdom belongs to us.

Now – spoiler alert!! – next week’s Gospel has Jesus telling us that it’s difficult to enter the Kingdom. But that’s next week’s episode...

For now, in the week ahead, can we just become like little children?
  • ·        Can we just take some quiet time and rest our heads on the shoulder of the Father and bask in His love?
  • ·        Just curl up in the arms of the One who will never let us go?
  • ·        Be embraced by the One who loves us more than He loved Himself?

What God has joined together cannot be separated indeed.
God has joined us to Himself and we can never be separated from Him.

Let’s just enjoy that for a while.

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