Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Prayers and Gratitude
to all Fathers
the Foremost Teachers in our Lives
Deceased and Living

Sunday Readings

In the gospel for today we experience Jesus having dinner in the home of one of the Pharisees.  Perhaps we might liken this to our Bishop of Rome accepting a dinner invitation to the home of one of the radical Islamic figures in our world today.  Throughout this gospel we are witnesses to a number of conversations that occur.

Let us consider the many different conversations we bring to our prayer today.  Perhaps you read this reflection early in the morning.  If so, you may not have had any conversation except with a household pet or a spouse or a child who has arisen early.  Likely your mind is recalling conversations from yesterday.  But I pose these images because in the course of a day, whenever we pray, consider the kinds of conversation experiences we have.  It is important to recognize our state of mind and heart when we begin to pray.  How challenging it is to pray if our heart has been battered or has battered another person recently.  How distracting it is to pray if there are major problems in one's life:  finances, disagreements with a spouse or child.  How unsettled is the heart if it is boiling with anger.  So it is important to reflect before beginning to pray or to attend a liturgy on what kind of conversations we have had before we try to talk with Jesus, with our Creator God or with the Holy Spirit or with one of the saints.  Jesus is God's Word, God's conversation with each of us.  To be able to converse with him, we need to know how it is that we converse with our own lives.  Conversations are the signs of how we deal with one another.

How we treat others is almost always a reflection of the "conversation" we have in our minds about others.  In the gospel a Pharisee hosts Jesus with a distinct mindset.  That is clear when we realize Simon, the host, failed to extend to Jesus the traditional practice of "washing of the feet" of the guests.  But Jesus does not fail to welcome into his company the woman clearly known as a "woman of the streets."  She realizes that Jesus had not been properly welcomed and proceeds to welcome Jesus in her own way.  Clearly her mental "conversation" reflected her awareness of Jesus' position in the community as a teacher and one who cared so much for others.  Jesus' care for this woman is a reflection to us of the "conversation" he must have in his mind with the woman.  It is the conversation that Jesus has in his mind when dealing with us ... wanting always to forgive whatever failings we may have brought to our conversation with him.

On the day when we offer words of thanks and praise for our fathers, it is a time when we might consider in our minds how we, who are men, "converse" with others.  Are we as caring and at times as gentle as our counterparts in this society, the women who are part of our lives.  The second part of the gospel story shows us how women have an innate spirit of caring, relating, comforting.  For them these are the traits and experiences that are part of life.

We men, on the other hand, have different innate feelings or actions.  Men always want to fix, to be recognized for what they accomplish, (even if it is changing a diaper!) or remembering to celebrate a spouse's or close friend's birthday or anniversary.  Men want to keep moving on to the next moment and what it holds.

Father's day is a moment each year when we men might take a moment to consider how we live our lives, how deeply we go into our selves and recognize what is more important than what needs to be fixed, or what had been accomplished.  For us men, and perhaps your might be ready to question my sanity, today we should stop to consider all of those deepest thoughts we so often find difficult to express.  These are the thoughts about living, loving, laughing ... all our deepest thoughts of caring for those who come into our lives.  Jesus the man was and continues to be the teacher of how to live life more deeply.

Dear male readers, I do hope that these thoughts are not offensive.  All I suggest is that we men, whether married or single, use this day to consider our "conversations" with family, friends and even those we find difficult to live or work with.  "What would Jesus do?"  How often we hear that question.  How often do we pull it into our manly lives?