St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church
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/ Weekly Message / Weekly Message 06-21-09: Second Sunday after Pentecost
Father\'s Day

Fathers' Day

Paying tribute to, honoring our fathers and recognizing their worth and value in our lives is not a recent phenomenon as so many would like to think. While it is true here in our nation, a particular day is set aside each year in recognizing the vocation of our fathers among us, tribute to both fathers and mothers originated in the mind of our God in the Old Testament. Its roots are directly attributed to the revelation of our God to believers among men.

At the stupendous encounter our heavenly Father had with Moses at which time we were gifted with the Ten Commandments, one of them, at their very center, for which it has been rightly titled, "God's chief-centerpiece for right living," is "Honor your father and your mother that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord your God is giving you" Exodus 20: 12.

There are two ideas embodied in this commandment. The very first is that parents must be honorable, must be such mothers and fathers to their children that they deserve to be honored. This is a truth that must be repeated today, over and again. Our heavenly Father, particularly has applied his own sacred name to the head of each household that men, fathers, would be inspired and challenged to live up to its dignity and see to it that the honor of our Creator is maintained in family life. When parents demean themselves and do not act or live like parents, their offspring, their children are cheated of the fundamental requirements of human life. The spirit of the commandment which exalts parents is not maintained and lived and so family life degenerates and is reduced to a simile of the beast. By far most mothers and fathers deserve to be honored and insofar as they honor the fatherhood of our God, are also to be recognized for submitting themselves to the will of God before they can expect their children to likewise submit themselves to the will of parents.

It right and correct that we recognize the role of God-fearing parents in our lives. They rightly are not our friends; they are our parents and overseers of God's will being done in our daily living. As children we are subject to our parents because our Creator has endowed them and insisted they live up to their vocation in forming in us a realistic and reliable vision and understanding of our Creator God. Parents who are faithful to their vocation cannot avoid or evade their privileged responsibility. Fathers are not answerable to children, but to God for the proper living out of their lifestyle as example and life-provider.

Fathers are the backbone and foundation of true Christian homes. It is they who give stability to the Christian commitment of family. It's the seriousness of the father that is communicated to spouse and children in following Christ daily. The faith response in love to Christ of the father is then copied, mirrored, duplicated and resonates for the miniature church. If the father is not a genuine believer, it becomes fairly obvious to all how much, then, the mother must do to make up for this serious deficit.

The second implication is rather obvious. Children are to recognize and accord honor to their parents, not only for communicating life to them, but seeing to it that the principles for sound living are observed, pursued and faithfully followed. Children are to assist their parents in whichever way they can, without being asked. Children as they advance in age should increase that assistance as they become more and more able. Children are to love and respect parents. How many elderly parents today go to the grave early because of a withdrawal of affection by their children whom they brought into the world. How often it has been said one set of parents can take care of, rear and provide for many children, but multiple children today do not know how to provide or relate to one set of parents! No doubt elderly parents can be a real problem, but love of a child overcomes even the most difficult situation patiently.

Today particularly, children must be careful never to do anything that humiliates, belittles or shames parents. Children in their left-handed thinking like to raise the question of their "rights" but this does not include abusing or dishonoring parents. If we rightly respect our fathers today, that sprit ought be observed tomorrow in the same fullness it was celebrated yesterday, in other words, every day.

Fathers share the same description and title as our Creator. It is a huge challenge for us to live up to that possibility: to radiate, to echo and resonate the values of our God in our homes, on the job and in our communities. All that we do, all that we teach must be in accord to what our God has revealed to us in the life of his Body, our blessed Church. Fathers must sensitively recognize they represent God the Father in the household, his values, his teaching, his insights, his actions must be revealed and made plain in ours. The father must be and is to be the very first in serving, in expending himself, literally willing to be emptied, to die for his family so that in the very example of Christ, he finds his greatest example.

We have in God's revelation to us the example of Abraham, God's friend who became a profound man of faith. We see Moses who stands up to the power of the great Egyptian pharaoh in behalf of his spiritual children. We see David first set a wrong example for his son but then correct it by transforming his role for imitation.

We who are fathers are comforted by our Lord who taught us, "He who has seen me sees the Father." Let us all so live, so act, so relate to others that everyone will see in us an earnest desire to echo and be like our namesake, that He be readily recognized in us.

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