Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there.
Throughout the past year, I am sure that I have shared a few memories of my dad—some good, some bad. I remember soccer and his love for the game; I remember his love for working in the basement and the times I was able to help him. But of all the memories, the one I cherish most is from when I was very little. Dad would come home from work and would crash into his recliner. As he decompressed from a long day, I would climb up into his chair and he’d wrap his arm around me. And I remember feeling safe there: his strength, his love, his father-ness melted away any fears, any worries, any sadness. I remember curling up beside him and I know that I would sometimes fall asleep there.
So, to all the fathers out there: thank you. Our love is with you this day and always.
* * *
Today’s Gospel is very applicable to fathers today. We might not have thought about fathers when we heard about the boat in the storm, but it actually has everything to do with fathers. How so?
Well, let’s consider a very obvious question: Why was Jesus asleep?
I mean, the storm is raging. And it has to be a major storm. We know that it is a major storm because in the boat with Jesus are the apostles—some of whom were fishermen—and as fishermen, they would have known all about storms; first-hand experience of their power. So, when this storm hits and, despite all their experience, they fear for their lives, we know this is a really bad storm.
And there is Jesus, asleep.
It’s not simply because Jesus is God. It’s not simply because Jesus is really, really tired. It’s because Jesus is sleeping in the arms of the Father—Jesus, who we say is the Son of God.
Jesus knows the Father: He knows that God the Father is powerful and loving and is going to take care of Him. Fathers, you love your children and would do anything for them—but because we are not God, we so often fail at that and we wish we could be superhuman and the perfect father and so on. God the Father is the perfect Father and He isn’t about to let anything happen to His Son.
Jesus knows this. And because He knows this, He is asleep.
This is also why, when Jesus wakes up, and after He has calmed the storm, He turns to the Apostles and says,
“Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
Faith in what? in whom?
In His Father.
In the One who has His arm wrapped around us and who really is our Father. He really does love us and He has not abandoned us.
Even when Jesus cries from the Cross—“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”—the Father has not abandoned Him. Jesus is experiencing what we as humans feel; but the Father is still there. And even there, the Father proves His love by raising Jesus from the dead.
* * *
So why are you terrified?
The storms of life—the anxieties, the discouragement, the fears that you have of the world or your bills or whatever it is that is causing you to fear—let God calm those fears. Climb up to Him now and let Him hold you in His loving strength, His Fatherly love.
* * *
For all of us fathers, let us see the Son for a moment. Notice that it is Jesus who calms the storm. He stands up in the boat and rebukes the sea and there is a great calm.
Where does Jesus get His voice?
From His Father.
Because Jesus rests in the Father and knows and trusts in His love, Jesus not only can rest in peace even in the midst of a violent storm, but Jesus also has courage. The security of the Father lends itself to a greater fortitude and perseverance of His children who must face the anxieties of life “out there.”
And we all know that our children will have to face many storms. We must reveal to them that they have a Father who will care for them, whom they can bank on and go to for peace and strength. And because of that, they will be courageous. It is the Son that stands up and reveals the power and love of the Father. He rebukes the storm; He does battle with what is causing the fear. That's courage.
* * *
When I think about my dad and look back as an adult, I realize what really matters. It’s not all of the toys that we had; it didn’t matter how big our house was or how much we had or any of that. What mattered most was that moment when my dad has his arm wrapped around me and I realized that I was his son and that—even in the midst of storms—everything was going to be ok.
I hope all of us fathers—myself included, for I am a father and not just “like one” (you call me Father Gerber, after all). My hope for all of us fathers is that we all find some rest today—a rest that will come when we climb up into our Heavenly Father’s chair and let Him call us “son,” and let Him show us what is really important, and how He’s going to take care of us.
God bless you, fathers! My fatherly love is with you always!