June 20th – XII Sunday in Ordinary Time

My dear friends,

We celebrate Father’s Day in a unique way this year as we continue to celebrate the Year of St. Joseph. We look to Joseph as the model of fatherhood because he was called to raise none other than the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis wrote a beautiful Apostolic Letter on St. Joseph back in December titled “Patris Corde” (With a Father’s Heart). This letter is a sublime meditation on the life of Joseph and his role in the history of salvation. Towards the end of the letter, the Holy Father talks about what it means to be a father using Joseph as an example of fatherhood:

In his relationship to Jesus, Joseph was the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father: he watched over him and protected him, never leaving him to go his own way…Fathers are not born, but made. A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child. Whenever a man accepts responsibility for the life of another, in some way he becomes a father to that person. Children today often seem orphans, lacking fathers…Being a father entails introducing children to life and reality. Not holding them back, being overprotective or possessive, but rather making them capable of deciding for themselves, enjoying freedom and exploring new possibilities…

[Joseph] never made himself the center of things. He did not think of himself, but focused instead on the lives of Mary and Jesus. Joseph found happiness not in mere self-sacrifice but in self-gift. In him, we never see frustration but only trust. His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust. Our world today needs fathers. It has no use for tyrants who would domineer others as a means of compensating for their own needs. It rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction…

In every exercise of our fatherhood, we should always keep in mind that it has nothing to do with possession, but is rather a “sign” pointing to a greater fatherhood. In a way, we are all like Joseph: a shadow of the heavenly Father, who “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt 5:45). And a shadow that follows his Son.

We pray for all of our fathers on this Father’s Day. That they may look to St. Joseph as the model of fatherhood: fathers who lead by example and not just words, fathers who lead by being men of prayer, fathers who lead their families by making sure that the family entrusted to their care always keeps Christ as the center of the family as St. Joseph did.

Happy Father’s Day!

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