Be a Courageous Man!

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ez 17: 22-24; 2 Cor 5: 6-10; Mk 4: 26-34

By Deacon Larry Brockman


Courageous!  Paul advises all of us to be courageous while we are away from our heavenly home, the Kingdom of God, meaning while we are in our earthly bodies.  And so, that’s what Fathers are called to be today, especially in the secular world we live in today- courageous.  We need that courage every day to live out our role as Fathers. 


Do you remember Father Larry Richards?  He seemed to energize this Parish during his recent mission here like nobody else in recent years.  We had record attendance; and we saw such enthusiasm for his message, especially among the men.  Many of you bought his tapes and books, like the “Be A Man” Book.  And how appropriate was his message in “Be a Man” for the Fathers out there today.  Because the “Man” that Father Larry told us we were all called to is a courageous men.  Father Larry told us that we men need to stay focused on the ultimate goal, the Kingdom of God.  Because all else, everything of the world, is left behind when we die.  Rather, we need to live as a beloved son of God, and teach our children to live as beloved sons and daughters; we need to repent of our sins and frailties, to live in the Spirit of God, and to be strong yet loving.  We need to be wise in the ways of the Lord, and to do what we were created to do- God’s will for us.  We need to be holy men;  And we need to be men who change the world.  If we can be such men, then we will be men who are courageous.


As I look out at all the fathers today, I suspect that most of you are wondering right now how you can meet such a tall order.  And yet God the Father, the ultimate Father, did something to help us.  He sent us His son, Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago to show us the way.  That’s what Ezekiel means by the shoot from the uppermost branches.  The Father is the uppermost branches, and He planted His Son, Jesus amongst us so that we could all learn how to be like Him.  His Gospel and the scriptures and the Church serve to transmit how we should do that.  And just like His son, God the Father will care for us and nurture us who believe in Him and follow Him by sending His spirit to live amongst us, and by giving us the graces to be courageous.  Jesus promised all that before he left us.  The spirit and graces of God are what gives us the courage to walk by faith, not by sight.


You know, those of us who are Fathers are truly gifted.  God has given us loving spouses who bear our children; and children are Gods greatest gifts entrusted to us so we can be an example of God’s fatherhood and love.  That, after all, should be our major focus as Fathers.  And God has also given us a challenge- the challenge to be our own persons, yet at the same time provide for our families and take responsibility for the spiritual welfare of our families.  Yes, that’s why we need to be courageous, because it takes courage to follow Jesus and do all of that.  But when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ those of us who have been courageous and met that challenge will receive our heavenly reward- everlasting life with God.


Now the things I have just talked about, the qualities of a man who is courageous, are not the same as the qualities that our society teaches about being a man.  In our society, it is success in the world that gets rewarded- money and power and physical strength and good looks and education.  These are the hallmarks of a successful man.  But these things are all centered on self; and that is not the message of the Gospel.  Rather, being a courageous man means that we center our attention on God first, our family second, and everything else comes after that.   

What I want for all of us men here today to realize is the essential difference between the successful man as Father Richards has defined him, and the successful man of the world, because today we are in drastic need of real men.  As Father Larry said, these are men who change the world, and the world needs changing right here in America.


We are living in a country where the divorce rate is phenomenally high; where the family unit and where the father as the spiritual leader of the family are under constant attack from our secular society, a society that pushes same-sex marriages and other alternate life styles that are contrary to God’s natural Law; and a Government that is trying to force our Church to sanction things that our Church and our hearts tell us are wrong.  Gentlemen, our roles as Fathers are under attack.  What God needs now are courageous men to turn this society around. 


How do we do that?  We start with our own families by the example we set; because our children are watching and become what we teach them.  Are we putting our wives and our families first, rather than our own self interests?  What are you doing to reflect the family values and the Church’s teaching in your own families?  And then there is the larger problem of erosion of family values in our society.  Are you involved?  There are plenty of ways to be involved- Respect Life, St. Vincent de Paul, and volunteering your talents in some other way, just to name a few.  Now some people will say, “What can I do that will make a difference”?  Those folks miss the point of today’s Gospel on the Kingdom of God.  Because the fruit of few good men, the smallest of seeds, can result in great things, just like the mustard bush in the Gospel.  That’s what the Kingdom of God is like, and all of you men can help make it happen together. 


Earlier, I mentioned the attack on the Church.  One way to get involved right now is to lead your family in support of the Bishop’s call to action in the Fortnight for Freedom that will be held from Thursday, June 21 through Wednesday, July 4.  This parish plans to conduct an evening prayer service each and every day with education sessions that address what is wrong and how you can help. 


All of us are busy with the things of the world.  But, our Religious Freedom is important, very important.  I challenge each and every Dad to be courageous and lead your family by example.  Get involved in the Fortnight for Freedom.  Find the time, lead your family, and be a men who together change the World! 

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