For me, a message found in this week’s Gospel is that we must put others above ourselves. In the Gospel Jesus is telling us that to be true disciples and followers of ‘The Way’ we must not have any attachments above Him. This fits squarely with our roles as fathers as we must not have anything above the needs and safety of our children. We must put our children above ourselves. We love them by putting their needs above our own, we love them above all else. And our reward for all this? Just as the reward for being a disciple of Jesus may not be of this world, the reward for our loving action and sometimes accepting that there will be challenges and crosses to bear, is knowing that we are touching the eternal through our children.
This Sunday is Father’s Day, a day when we honour fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers and father-figures in society. So, it is hard in some way to reconcile this day with the Gospel reading for this Sunday. Particularly verse 26 where it states, ‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.’ Although Jesus is referring to what is required of us to be His disciples, I’d like to draw some comparisons to the costs of being a father. But equally as there is great joy in being a disciple of Jesus there is also great joy in being a father.
As a father of 5 I can tell you that on occasions I can feel this ‘hate’ that the Gospel speaks of in the form of burdens and challenges. For it is the role of fathers to want the best for our children and to protect them from harm, which may require us making decisions that they do not fully understand. Therefore, at times we may not be our children’s favourite person, for a short time at least. However, equally we are at other times; loved, respected, listened to, heard, sort for advice, wisdom and of course money. A father’s role in the life of their children is multivalent one that is difficult at times, but as we know, ‘nothing of great value comes without great struggle’.
Happy Father’s Day!