When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, He began by establishing who God is in relationship to us and who we are in relationship to God. He revealed God as Abba, Daddy, Papa, Pa.
So the relevant question this Sunday, Father’s Day, is how do we daddies ‘who art on Earth,’ reflect, reveal and represent to our children our Father in Heaven through our daily interaction with them?
Three years ago, when my son, Jonathan was nine, we were both outside in the yard. I was washing the car and he was feeding the fishes. He then asked me the strangest but funniest of questions: “Daddy do you think I would be a good father?”.
So I laughed and asked him if he meant a father like Fr Lumsden (our then parish priest), insinuating that he would become a priest. We both laughed. He then said with a somewhat serious face, “I’m serious, Daddy. Do you think I would become a good father like you?”
The truth is I actually saw myself as an ‘ok-ish’ dad but I never thought I was a ‘good’ father. So I stopped washing the car and called him closer asking him what he meant by “a good father like me”.
As men, many of us see fatherhood as a complicated role but for children, being a father is the simplest of things. Jonathan then listed four things in his eyes that qualified me to be a good father:
I was literally blown away! I never once analysed those four things I did in those categories. This made me quite sombre because there and then I realised how much more I could have been for my children.
The truth is these four things are all about relationship. He did not mention to me being a good daddy because I gave him stuff…and he’s gotten stuff. They all were about our daily simple interaction with each other.
I have done a fair share of ministry to young men in our Catholic secondary schools and in every case where I give this story there is a sadness and a yearning in these young men wishing that they got these four things from their dads.
We all desire these four things from our physical fathers but also our spiritual fathers…our priests. We desire our priests to also laugh with us, ‘lime’ with us, play sports with us.
We want them to be readily available and accessible to us so we can talk to them about anything. And we want them to truly help us with our life projects: our marriages, parenting, addictions, our jobs, our journey to sainthood.
This is my challenge to all of us fathers: let us begin to make disciples of our children, because the truth is they will more than likely become us or marry someone like us.
Let us also be compassionate and forgiving fathers who will readily welcome back our children when they have made mistakes. And remember the best gift a father can give to his children is to see him loving his wife; treating her with respect, affection and love.
This Father’s Day editorial was done by Allan Julien, a husband and father of two. He is a lay minister in the Chaguanas RC parish and one of the leaders of the parish’s vibrant men’s group. In March, Julien was commissioned by Archbishop Jason Gordon into the leadership team of the National Catholic Men’s Ministry.