Our Heavenly and Earthly Father

Our Heavenly and Earthly Father

Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

I don’t know how you feel about this personal statement from St. Paul. Do you find it odd for people to wish to die so that they could be at home with our heavenly Father forever? Or do you find it rather dark and off-putting?

No matter how we take it, I think that for a healthy person to wish to be at home with Daddy in heaven rather than keep living on this earth indicates that he/she is firmly convinced that this heavenly Daddy of ours must be someone so loving, so awesome and yet so unfathomable that his attributes can be described only by analogies, metaphors and images.

This is what both our first reading (Ezekiel 17:22-24) and Gospel passage (Mark 4:26-34) are using today. And, in describing our heavenly Father, they are also clarifying and enhancing the image and the significance of our earthly fathers, so much apropos today, Father’s Day!

Undoubtedly, our heavenly Daddy is good with his hands: think of the awesomeness of creation and nature: think of the microcosm invisible to the naked eye, and yet, so marvelous, so breathtaking, so very real; and, at the other extreme, think of his innumerable galaxies filling an ever-expanding universe. 

Or think of how, through Ezekiel’s analogies, he is brought so much closer to us as a combination gardener/tree surgeon, to share with us his grandiose plan of gathering, unceasingly, into one family his children from the four corners of the earth. 

He picks the best possible shoot and plants it in an ideal spot; surrounds it with assiduous quality care and attention, until that shoot turns into a majestic cedar in which all kinds of birds and every winged thing can find refuge and protection.

Continuing with comprehensible symbolism, our heavenly Daddy is also good at doing what is difficult for mere human beings to do: he brings low the high tree; he lifts high the lowly tree; he causes the green tree to wither and makes the withered tree bloom.

He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. (Luke 1:51-52)

Similarly, in today’s Gospel passage, we see how Jesus uses simple images to describe to us what motivates Daddy to act in our best interest; how he operates; how he cares for us. When Jesus first told this parable, 2000 years ago, after scattering the seeds in the field, a farmer’s work was practically done until harvest time….

Everything else was beyond his control. Hence, Jesus reveals to us how the sprouting, the growing and the maturing, as well as the rainfall and the sunshine were all up to Daddy. In all these centuries since, most of the aspects of growth have not changed that much. Therefore, beyond the analogy, we are reminded of how we should do our modest share and then, if we are “Gospel-wise,” we should let God take over and take care of all the rest. Thus, Jesus invites us to surrender to Daddy’s boundless love, knowledge and power.

Moving to the next image, the one of the mustard seed, Jesus calls us to confront the smallness and the insignificance of our human nature and the limited size of our contribution to the wellbeing of this world; however, for us believers, Jesus adds that it must be always combined with the assurance that our smallness is precisely what keeps Daddy always by our side.  

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48)

The little seed turns into a plant big enough to attract birds of all species and provides them with shelter, protection and a sense of belonging. The obvious disproportion between the beginning and the end result, between what we entrust to the ground and what the ground yields, between what we are ready to surrender, and the reward is all part of the uniqueness of Daddy’s family.

Therefore, today, on Father’s Day, we thank the Lord for our dads living and deceased: they are/were reminders of his divine Fatherhood. We know that they are/were beset with human limitations. We know that none of them is/was perfect, but we are certain that, in our eyes and in our hearts, they help us have a clearer picture of our heavenly Daddy.

They remain vivid images of our heavenly Daddy’s strength mitigated by tenderness, knowledge made more detailed by closeness, protection enhanced by assiduous care and love sustained by joyous self-giving. Through them, O Lord, you offer us stirring examples of untiring perseverance, palpable feeling of security, comforting reassurance, joyous sacrifices, and of your attentive presence by our side.

Hence, we ask you to keep, guide, strengthen, enlighten and bless all dads, who are still among us, so that our trust in you may increase and enable us to withstand the life’s tests still in our future, until we will be reunited with all the rest of your children in your heavenly home.

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin