The impact of fatherhood

lent2016

Reading: Matthew 7

7 ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 ‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

 

Many people believe that the image of God the Father we perceive is influenced, at least to a certain degree, by our earthly father’s character, behaviour, and attitude toward us. This influence is especially significant in childhood and adolescence, when one starts to form opinions on life, the world, and God. Augustine rarely mentions his father who was, of course, a pagan.

 Augustine

"My father [was] a man prepared to go beyond his means in spending as much money as was needed to send his son away to study, even in a distant city. No such efforts were made on behalf of the children of many other citizens who were far richer; yet all the while this same father of mine was unconcerned about how I would grow up for you, and cared little that I should be chaste, provided I was intellectually cultivated. It would be truer to say that I was left fallow of your cultivation, O God, who are the only true and good owner of your field, my heart.”

Every family’s story and every relationship between a parent and a child is different. When Jesus talks about his Father, it is a special relationship, unlike any other. And yet the words "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"  relate, at least in some degree, to both kinds of fatherly love: the imperfect, earthly love and the one true love that flows from the God in heaven.

“Lord, we pray about the impact our earthly fathers, both living and passed away, have made upon us. We give thanks for the positive influences they have been and, where they have been less so, ask that we might see in others the reflection of your Fatherhood.”