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THE WORD IS LIFE

The prologue to St. John’s gospel introduces God’s Son as the Word. This life-giving Word—spoken down through the ages—became flesh and lived in our midst. For all of Christian history, the Word is intimately connected with all of human life. It is the purpose of TWIL (“The Word Is Life”) to bring the gospel to life and to bring life to the gospel. This blog will feature reflections on the Sunday Scriptures from contemporary Catholic writers, words of wisdom for our Spiritual journey from saints and blessed, and thoughtful reflections on masterpieces of sacred art. We at Living with Christ hope that they will help you grow in your spiritual life and deepen your relationship with the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.

‘With a Father’s Heart’

Categories: The Word Is Life

You didn’t have to embrace the politics of Joe Biden to feel his anguish over the very public trial of his son Hunter on charges that he failed to disclose his own addictions when he applied for federal approval to buy a firearm.

We saw the U.S. President acting like so many other fathers who see their own child in serious trouble and are restricted in how much they can interfere. It can be extremely painful, even in the most anonymous of families. But for the Bidens, everything they say or do is magnified multiple times by Joe Biden’s position and his vulnerability to his many critics in the media, both mainstream and social.

Joe Biden may be the most powerful man in the most powerful country on earth, but he could not stop his son’s trial, or even be seen to be involved. He had to show absolute impartiality so no one could accuse him of using his office to benefit himself or members of his own family.

At the same time, he is a father. Like so many other fathers, he loves his son deeply, even if Hunter has, because of his own struggles with alcohol and drugs, hurt his parents, siblings, even friends. News reports suggest Joe Biden was in touch every day of the trail with his son, even if only for a short phone call or by sending an encouraging text. He issued a public statement promising his own non-intervention in the trial, while also noting that he continues to support Hunter as a father does.

If you can set aside the media and political circus around the trial (a big IF, granted), it can be viewed as an object lesson in fatherhood as we celebrate this annual Father’s Day on June 16. Being a father is still one of the most noble vocations that can be chosen by a man — and one of the most difficult.

Sharing the duties of raising children may be difficult during their early years, but the real test of being a father comes when the child reaches adulthood and is ready for independence. Letting go is difficult, as the rise of helicopter parents can attest. Such parents, so fearful of any potential harm that could come to their children, are noted for their overbearing interference into aspects of their children’s lives, such as high school, university, etc., that would have been considered bizarre by earlier generations. Despite their best intentions, these parents are not doing their children any favors.

Pope Francis underlined the responsibility of fathers in his 2020 apostolic letter Patris Corde (With a Father’s Heart):

“Fathers are not born, but made. A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child. Whenever a man accepts responsibility for the life of another, in some way he becomes a father to that person,” he wrote.

“Being a father entails introducing children to life and reality. Not holding them back, being overprotective or possessive, but rather making them capable of deciding for themselves, enjoying freedom and exploring new possibilities,” Pope Francis continued.

Fathers have to learn the painful lesson of making themselves unnecessary, noted the pope. As St. Joseph demonstrated throughout Scripture, a father’s love is defined by his quiet, unobtrusive support for the family.

Pope Francis further wrote, “When fathers refuse to live the lives of their children for them, new and unexpected vistas open up. Every child is the bearer of a unique mystery that can only be brought to light with the help of a father who respects that child’s freedom. The pope reminds us that “A father who realizes that he is most a father and educator at the point when he becomes ‘useless’, when he sees that his child has become independent, and can walk the paths of life unaccompanied. When he becomes like Joseph, who always knew that his child was not his own but had merely been entrusted to his care.”

On this Father’s Day, let us pray together the pope’s own prayer to St. Joseph:

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.

Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.

 

Joseph Sinasac is the recently retired Publishing Director of Novalis Publishing. He has been involved with religious communications for almost 45 years as an author, journalist, editor, and TV and radio commentator on all things Catholic.

Author: Living with Christ

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