Christ the King Catholic Church
Jim Moore is an author who has written several books on the topic of 'Fatherhood'. Among those books are ' The Eyes of the Ship: Navigating the Waters of Fatherhood" and 'How to be a Superman in a Clark Kent World." In one of his books he tells of an ·experience that he had when he was- five years old. It was an experience that he says shaped his life in many ways.
He had gone to his grandmother's house after school. His grandmother lived on the same block as Jim and his family, just a few doors down, and so he had the privilege of spending lots of time with his grandmother. But one day, just as he was getting ready to leave his grandma's house, a ·storm -came up. The wind was blowing, rain was pelting down, lightening was flashing and thunder was rumbling behind the clouds. Jim Moore, a five year old boy, was terrified.
And then, coming through the rain, he recognized a familiar figure. It was his Dad. He came up to the door, opened his London Fog raincoat and Jim grabbed his Dad by the waist. His Dad closed the raincoat around him and off they went into the storm. Even though it was raining hard and the wind was howling and he couldn't see a thing from under that raincoat, Jim was no longer afraid. He knew that his father could see where they were going and so he just held on tightly and trusted him. Soon the coat opened and they were home - safely home.
I would imagine that many of us are fortunate to have similar stories. One of my favorite memories of my Dad was at a lake that we often went to on Sunday afternoons in the summer after Mass. We would have a picnic lunch and then after dutifully waiting a sufficient amount of time to avoid leg cramps, Dad would give us the 'go ahead' to hit the water. At the deep end of the lake was a diving platform which attracted all of the big kids. One Sunday I followed my brother to
that platform and was going to jump off the platform for the first time. But when it came time to jump, I froze. Some of the big kids began challenging me to jump. Out of the comer of my eye I saw my Dad get in the water and swim toward the platform. When he got there he gave me a nod and I knew it was safe to jump into the water. Dad was there just in case and his presence made it all alright.
Jim Moore says that his memory of his Dad on a stormy afternoon not only shaped many of his ideas about his own Dad, but the love and care of his earthly father also shaped many of his ideas about his Heavenly Father. Psychologists tell us that our dads have a huge role in forming us. And one of the greatest gifts our dads give us is a sense of security.
And I think that 'sense of security' is at the heart of the scriptures this weekend that happily happens to be 'Father's Day.'
The scriptures remind us that we are all wrapped in God's love for us. Jeremiah is called to be a prophet - to speak for God a word that many people, including kings, did not want to hear. He paid a heavy price for the call that God had placed on his life. We often times try to silence prophets and when we can't silence them, we kill them. Jeremiah knew insults and injury and death threats and yet1 he continued speaking because he was convinced that he lived under the mantle of God's protection.
The very Jeremiah who once complained, "You duped me, 0 Lord, and I let myself be duped," is the same Jeremiah who in the face of threats says, "But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph." It's as if God, in the storms of life, covers and shields Jeremiah with a London Fog raincoat!
Saint Paul echoes this same idea. He reminds the Christians of his day in Rome, and all of us today, of what God has done for us in the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus. Christ. In Jesus God has poured such love into our lives that nothing can destroy us. Saint Paul will go on to say that not even death can now separate us from the love that God has shown us in Jesus, His Son. And so what have we to fear?
In the Gospel, as Jesus sends his Apostles out into a world that will often be hostile, he reminds them that their ultimate security is in God, a God who has counted every hair on their head and a God under whose watchful care not even a sparrow falls to the ground. In Jesus' day, two sparrows were sold for the equivalent of a penny, but if a person was willing to spend two cents the seller would through in a fifth sparrow for nothing - as if it had no value at all. But even that extra sparrow matters to God.
With this encouragement that nothing happens to us without the knowledge of God, Jesus sends his Apostles out into a world that will often times be hostile and threatening. Jesus sends them out into a frightening world and yet tells them to not be afraid.
They will preach a gospel of humble service to a world in which many use power to lord it over others. They will preach a gospel of humble service to a world in which many are scrambling over others for the first places.
They will preach a gospel of unconditional love to people who have spent a lifetime building the walls of prejudice, separating and dividing people in·every way imaginable for political or economic gain.
They will preach a gospel of peace and reconciliation to those who make a fortune waging war and the big business behind the machines of war.
They will preach a gospel of radical reverence for all human life to a world that holds the life of the unborn child, the inmate on death row or the immigrant in our midst as of having no value, let alone the value of a sparrow that falls to the ground.
They will preach a gospel of unlimited forgiveness to a world that harbors hate for injuries inflicted and injustices committed.
In the midst of all of these powerful forces, Jesus sends his disciples out into the world with the message, 'Be not afraid." Jesus doesn't tell us that we will be spared from the storms of life or the threatening waters into which we are sometimes asked to jump. He doesn't tell us that the world in which we live isn't a scary place. But he tells that in his death and resurrection he has overcome the world and we have nothing to fear, for like Jim Moore, we have a Father who will
be with us in the storms of life and who will bring us safely home. The greatest gift a father can give his-children is a sense of security. And this is the gift that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ gives to all of us as we begin the adventure of still one more week of life.
Be not afraid!