Hiep Vu, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Bolivia, reflects on the vocation of fatherhood in honor of Father's Day.
We celebrate Father’s Day today, on Sunday, June 21, 2020. We pause to think of the importance of a loving father – his guiding hand, his wisdom, his help.
God the Father gave up his only Son, Jesus Christ, so that we might be saved through him. He provides an example of the very vocation of fatherhood.
If we read a little beyond today’s Gospel reading from Matthew (Matthew 10: 26-33), we come to verses 34 and 35, which read, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Clearly, verse 35 is a difficult, challenging statement to comprehend, yet in today’s complex world, we see this kind of division happening in Catholic families everywhere. The call of the Gospel is challenging – and so is the vocation of fatherhood.
Fatherhood is a vocation, a call from God. Fathers serve as a teachers, models, guides, authority figures, and companions to children. Fathers are real and imperfect people who, worn down by fatigue or worry, make mistakes. However, they often offer committed love over the years and it helps form them in holiness.
Studies show that the personal example of a father teaches children how to live and cope with life and how to practice faith. Fatherly example is more than just words.
Today, in a special way, let us be grateful for:
- Our fathers, by birth or adoption, who love us and support us through life
- Our single parents (mom or dad), who love us and walk with us through life
- Our Church leaders, who take on the role of guiding us through life
- And God, our Father, who will always teach justly and grant us boundless mercy
And if, for any reason, your father is not present in your life or not as perfect as you wish, let us pray for our fathers and that all might experience the love of a good father.
One final image from Scripture related to fatherhood is the famous story of the Prodigal Son. In this story from Luke, we read that “While [the son] was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.” We can reflect on the thousands of times a father waits in vigil for his child – waiting and watching out with a heart full of compassion.
Happy Father's Day!
Hiep Vu and his wife, Tawny Thanh, with children at the day care center of the Virgen del Rosario Institute in Punata, Cochabamba, Bolivia. Photo by Nile Sprague.