My parish (St. Peter on Capitol Hill) is a city parish. It’s literally at the geographic heart of Washington DC. Unlike many city parishes though, it’s almost entirely residential. As Washington continues to renew itself our parish becomes more and more a parish of families with small children. Looking out over the crowd on Sunday it’s a joy to see couples whose lives have been defined in this place. Often one or both spouses have converted to Catholicism in this parish… then married… then baptized their kids in this parish… all in just the last few years. So, this coming Sunday’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a very beautiful time for us. There’s a moment in the baptism of the Lord that we don’t always think about, “…a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'” (cf Lk 3:15-22) It’s impossible to celebrate baptism as part of Jesus’ life… as part of our lives… without celebrating the voice of a Father blessing his child. Jesus is the fullness of the revelation of the Father… Likewise children are the revelation of their fathers. Like Abraham handing on his legacy to Isaac, the Father hands on his very self to Jesus… and Catholic dad’s are invited to hand on their very selves to their kids in the moment of baptism. But the legacy we leave our children will depend largely on how we live our lives.
Over the last several weeks we’ve focused a lot (and rightly so) on the contributions made by Jesus’ mother, Mary. So it takes nothing away from the honor of mothers if this Sunday wet think a bit about the contributions of Jesus’ Father, THE Father… and likewise our dads here on earth. Gentleman, just as Mary plays a unique, irreplaceable role, in the life of Jesus, so too the Father in his life and you in your kids’ lives. Do not surrender that role! Do not surrender time and care spent with your kids… do not surrender it to pornography or career or drink, or comfort. Do not surrender a future with your kids to the limits placed on you by anything that may have happened in the past. It is the past. It is over. How do we unshackle ourselves from past sins, past appetites, past inclinations? Take advantage of this year of mercy. Spend it talking with the men of your parish, with your parish priest, with your Father in heaven. Go to confession. Use this time of special graces to renew yourself and so renew the gift you leave to your children.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, I HIGHLY recommend a letter written by Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, AZ. As the father of his diocese he has penned a beautiful and encouraging exhortation to the men of his local church. I hope you find it as edifying as I have. For a taste of it, check out the youtube video above.