It was about this time eight years ago, I was asked to be a guardian of my friends’ children in case something happened. It got my attention on many levels. The biggest one was, “could I be a dad?” I called my dad for advice.
I remember one thing he said very clearly, “John, there is nothing in the world like being a parent.” And he went on to describe why. It was a surreal experience for me as one of his children. And it helps me to better understand all that he has done for me and continues to. He’s been so generous for so many years.
He has made sure I am fed (including with his favorite treats), clothed (including with clothes from his closet), and provided me with anything he saw could be really helpful to me. His generosity even extends to my friends. He’s a foot doctor and he does all he can to take care of them, especially making them laugh.
One of the greatest gifts my dad gives is his support, understanding and affirmation. It is a gift he shares generously. And it is only made greater when in vulnerable moments like those described above. I am a very blessed son.
We had some training the other day where a priest was sharing the story of his call to the priesthood and how God continued to confirm him in that call. He said at one point he was on a retreat and the spiritual director asked him to pray a lot with the scene of Jesus’ Baptism, where God the Father says to Jesus, “Thou art my beloved son…” He prayed with that scene over and over until it clicked that he is God’s beloved son. It was a critical step on his path to being a spiritual father.
Lately, we have been asked to think more specifically about certain aspects of the priesthood, among them son-ship, fatherhood and self-sacrifice. These are challenging areas for me to try to think about (still). Like the 2nd reading this past weekend said about priests, I feel weak yet called.
I am thankful to be learning that I can share these types of concerns with God in prayer. And to listen to his response. And experience hope. I am also thankful for the support of my father (and other earthly spiritual fathers) who give me much reason to trust in the love of my heavenly father, encourage me in this calling to spiritual fatherhood, and give me generous examples I hope to follow.