Kaitlyn Lenne Daughter of God and natural-born teacher
Firstly, Happy Father's Day to all the men out there that have supported, loved, and cared for loved ones! Whether you are a father or not, I welcome you to reflect on your paternal influences throughout your life as I reflect on mine.
My dad has always been there for me from cutting my hair when I was younger and picking me up when my car breaks down. He has taught me how to drive, change a tire, make the perfect gravy for dinner, and, most importantly, give of yourself to those surrounding me. He has always been a person of giving. When volunteering his time to help build houses to serving food at the local homeless shelter, he always taught us that giving is better than receiving. And let me tell you that this makes it extremely difficult to give him gifts for the holidays! We always have to bug him to make a list when, in reality, the ultimate gift was a quiet day without my sisters and I annoying him with SpongeBob SquarePants quotes.
Now, I will say many of the presents he got for his birthday or Christmas were pretty predictable. There are endless ties, coffee cups, tools, and all of your typical "dad" gifts. I think his list got more creative after I gave him a "Jar of Nothing" because that is what he said he wanted, nothing. It was quite literally an empty jar. I don't know if he loved that gift as much as I did, but he still has it on his shelf, so I think that says something (maybe a reminder to be careful what you wish for?)! It is hard to give someone a thoughtful gift when he gives the best gift every day, the gift of unconditional love. No matter what I do, he is always there to (loudly) support me!
Come this Father's Day, I have had the chance to reflect on all the gifts I have given him. It makes me wonder, what do you give to a father who has given you everything? How does a simple tie or coffee cup compare to the gift of life? How does a simple, "Happy Father's Day" honor all that he has done for me? Whether you have a father figure on earth or not, you do have the best one of all, in Heaven. God, our Father in Heaven, is the perfect Father and the best gift we have been given. He helps us up when we fall short, welcomes us home with open arms, and most importantly, loves us unconditionally.
A perfect example of a father's love is in the gospel Luke 15:17-24, The Prodigal Son.
"Coming to his senses the youngest son thought, 'How many of my Father's hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my Father and I shall say to him, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers."' So he got up and went back to his Father. While he was still a long way off, his Father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.' But his Father ordered his servants, 'Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.' "
"He ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him." The Father didn't roll his eyes or turn his son away. He simply welcomed him home. He did what our Holy Father does for us time and time again, he welcomes us home even when we feel like we should be banished. The younger son was shocked by his Father's reaction. Why would my Father take me back after all I have done against him? Why does he love me after seeing who I became? If you had the opportunity to ask the Father in that story what the best gift he has ever received was, it wouldn't be a tie or coffee cup. It would be when his son came home. Wouldn't that be the best gift you could give God today, simply just coming home? With all that has been happening in our world today, you might not physically be able to visit him in his house this Sunday. However, the beautiful gift he has given you is that he has made you the Church. God is ever-present in and around you. Wherever you find yourself today, that ground is holy. When you center yourself towards God, your very life is an act of worshiping him. Every time you mention his name, you are home.
This right here shows us what fatherly love is. Our Holy Father sees us for who we truly are, and still, we are invited to the holy feast. When it comes to giving gifts, God gave the best one to you. He gave his only son over to be crucified for your sake. Now I don't know about you, but if that is what he gave you as a present, what kind of present can you give him to top that? In the hustle of your day, find a moment to thank Our Heavenly Father for the many gifts he has given us every day and think, what can I give him for Father's Day?
This Father's Day, let us be grateful for: -Our fathers, by birth or adoption, who love us and support us through life. -Our church leaders, who take on the paternal role of guiding us through life. -God, our Father, who will always teach justly and grant us boundless mercy. May you always remember the best gift is not always wrapped in a box with a cute little bow. Sometimes the best gift of all is love. May God bless us all and help us to lead with love!