On Being a Role Model as a Father

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

2 Sam 12: 7-10, 13; Gal 2: 16, 19-21; Luke 7: 36 – 8:3

Dc. Larry Brockman


It’s amazing how easy it is to see what’s wrong with other people, and yet, to be blind to our own sins and imperfections.  We have two excellent examples of that today and the unfortunate consequences of each.

First, there is the story about King David.  David had arranged for the death of Uriah the Hittite so he could take Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, as his own.  Nathan describes in detail what David did in a parable about a rich man and a poor man.  David becomes enraged that the rich man took advantage of the poor man, and vows to take action against him.  So in the first line of our reading Nathan courageously identifies to David that he, David, is the culprit who did it!  David could not see the evil in his own actions when he was doing them.  Rather, he was preoccupied with satisfying his own desires.  But he could see the evil with ease in the parable when it was about somebody else.

And then there is the Gospel.  Most of us assume the woman was a prostitute.  But the bible experts disagree because the woman wouldn’t have gotten into the Pharisee’s house as a prostitute.  More than likely, she was a social climber, who was not practicing the Jewish law, and everybody knew it.  But, it doesn’t matter, because the essence of her involvement was the fact that the Pharisee was blind to his own sin.  The Pharisee was self-righteous with regard to what the woman did; so much so that he couldn’t see his lack of hospitality and his sense of superiority- in other words, his rudeness.

These stories tell us that even those who are usually considered good and the most looked up to by society need to constantly be on their guard against blindness to their sins.  David, who was chosen by God to be the secular king and was favored and blessed by God and devoted to God, sinned in this way.  And the Pharisee, who was at the top of the religious segment of society, like a priest or Bishop in our time, was guilty of the same sin.  Both David and the Pharisee were public figures who were looked up to and emulated as examples for the people.

In both cases, their sins were rooted in pride and a lack of humility.  They either didn’t want to or didn’t care to understand their own limitations; they didn’t see the value in always loving the other person- but rather, they were concerned with their own agendas.  And they didn’t see how their actions affected others or how others would view their actions; others, who looked up to them and emulated their every action.

This morning, we are celebrating Father’s Day.  It’s that day when we honor Fathers and their roles in our lives.  I can’t help but reflect on the awesome responsibility that Fatherhood carries with it especially in light of the two stories we just heard.

Children are such a vulnerable segment of society.  They pick up on everything whether we realize it or not.  Like Uriah the Hittite or the repentant woman in the Gospel, children can easily become unintended victims.  Children need to be treated with love and respect by all who have charge over them.

How can fathers who are being blind to their own sinfulness make sure that they don’t lead children astray by?  How do they avoid their children from emulating the weaknesses that they have that are emphasized by their blindness?

In the second reading, we hear how Paul lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved him and gave himself up for him.  Jesus loves all of us and gave himself up for all of us too.  When fathers recognize the need to live as St. Paul did, putting others first, particularly their families; by dying to self and taking advantage of the graces God gave them to always be sensitive to God’s will for them; then they become who they were really meant to be.  They will have a good and realistic awareness of their real self and their role in the world.  And that is true humility, a realistic awareness of one’s real self with all the limitations as well as the gifts.  That honesty of self reflects itself in how they behave.  When your child emulates that kind of behavior  you are on the right track because honesty shows in behavior of the truly humble person.

Think about your own family; your own Dad.  Think of an incident that happened when you really admired your dad.  Chances are, it was a moment when he was being his real self.  It was a tender moment of real and intense presence in your life; a moment in which his love, sincerity and honesty shone through; a time when he forgave you or asked for your forgiveness; a time when he just accepted you the way you were.

And so, for all the dads out there this morning, our children and families are our most precious gift from God.  Be your real self with your family.  Remember one of our responses in this morning’s psalm:  “Blessed the man in whom the Lord imputes no guilt, in whose spirit there is no guile”.


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