Friday, August 12, 2011

Despite the current focus on the issue of fatherlessness (or the lack of fathers in many homes) is really is an age old problem. The scope of the problem has just grown to enormous proportions and is very alarming. But the Old Testament addresses this issue in the Book of Malachi 4:56 which says, God will send a prophet to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers,” lest the land be struck “with a curse.” Few can deny that there seems to be a social curse on America when it comes to the plight of fatherhood, or lack thereof. Not only are many families lacking a father but very often we fathers are struggling under the pressures of the day. We struggle to become the leaders that our God demands. The structure of the world today creates inherent problems for fathers. So how do we overcome these issues and grow into the father that our children require? How do we support the mothers of our children? How do we model the behavior that our sons and daughters need to see so that they can seek out partners and form healthy relationships? Depending on God is always the best start. Of course, God is so good that he always gives us perfect examples to follow. St. Joseph, who was Jesus’ father on earth, provides a stellar example of good fathering. St. Joseph was a descendant of King David. This fulfilled the scripture prophecy that the Messiah would come from the house of David. Of all the men in the world throughout history, a simple village carpenter named Joseph was the one chosen to help raise the Child Jesus to adulthood. In his faithful, loving care was entrusted the childhood and youth of the Redeemer of the world. A model for fathers, Saint Joseph is invoked as a protector of the family. True fatherhood challenges men to fulfill their greatest obligations, to love unconditionally, to will the good of the other, without expecting anything in return, sacrificing the self for the family and for others. A father’s love is like that of Christ: “We are to love, then, because He loved us first” (1 John 4:19). This means following the pattern of Christ’s love, dying willingly on the Cross to give us eternal life, and to give life to His new life: “Whoever remains in me… bears fruit in plenty” (John 15:5). Pope John Paul II preached that , “fatherhood is responsibility for life: for the child first conceived in the woman’s womb and then born, in order that a new man, who is blood of your blood and flesh of your flesh, may be revealed.” So if you are a father, recommit yourself to the ideals St. Joseph. If your husband is struggling with fatherhood, pray for him and ask St. Joseph to pray with you. Modern society needs an army of fathers who will serve God as prayer warriors. Who will respond?