Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    Faith Matters - Abba's Day

    Article by Mr Brendan Nicholls

    Faith Matters – Abba’s Day

    As we celebrate Father’s Day this weekend it’s important that we as a community pause to consider the essence of this celebration and consider what we may draw from it at a deeper level. Historically the day seems to have developed in the United States around 1910 to celebrate the contribution of fathers within families. Over time the celebration has been adopted by most countries and although there is not an internationally agreed each country places the day on their calendar. In Australia, Father’s Day falls on the first weekend of spring; this year it actually falls on the first day of spring!

    Father’s Day is a celebration of all that is good about fatherhood. When we celebrate the day we focus upon the self-sacrifice, virtuous behaviour and dependability shown by good fathers. Sadly, the day for some is jarring as the father figure in their life was or is anything but good, loving or dependable. There are also a small but vocal groups that tarnish the celebration by heralding the day as van guard that may reclaim the primacy of men and a patriarchal model of society. For most however the day is a wonderful acknowledgement of the important contribution fathers and father figures have in sharing the responsibilities of parenting with their spouse or mother of the children.

    Father’s Day is in fact a celebration of the complimentary roles of both parents and the need to acknowledge and celebrate the mutual effort of both parents in the upbringing of children. Although stereotypes still prevail each father is unique and responds to the needs of his family in way particular to his strengths and the corresponding strengths and weaknesses of his wife or partner. Father’s Day is a celebration of the complimentary nature of parenting and the special ways in which a father supports and loves his family.

    On a personal note my wife and I have always loved the day and in particular the gifts our children make me for Father’s Day and the cup of tea and vegemite toast they make that constitutes breakfast in bed. The gifts they give are often quite terrible but the love that they were made with make them priceless to me. Father’s Day gifts do not get thrown out, they are cherished. 

    The gifts my children make for me each Father’s Day show me how much they adore me. And it’s that verb that moves my heart more than anything they could say or do; they adore me! Adoration is more than love. Adoration is an expression of deep love and respect. They respect me because of who I am to them, not because they fear me or because I have authority over them. On Father’s Day they show me that they are aware of what I have done for them and what I have been able to model or teach them.

    Everything my children give to me of Father’s Day has already been given to them by me. The wallet my son made me at Scouts was purchased by me when I paid his fees. Importantly thought the wallet was bought for me through his love and the effort required to make it so that on Sunday he can show me that he adores me. What is beautiful is that on Father’s Day children desire to show their fathers how much they adore them. This is more than showing how much they love their parent. Through their gifts or attempts at offering breakfast in bed they are trying to express something that words cannot. 

    In considering these themes, I contemplate what Jesus might have done in his life to show Joseph that he adored him. As a young boy did Jesus make small things in the workshop for Joseph? What did he do to go out of his way and do something to show Joseph that he had learnt what it is to be a good man and that he was thankful?

    Later in his life Jesus gave us a new way of living. To Jesus the Father was and is “Abba” (Daddy). He revealed Abba to humankind and taught us what we are to do in our lives to bring about His kingdom. Unlike his early life and his relationship with Joseph we do know what Jesus did as an adult to show his adoration for Abba. On the cross he gave God and humanity all that he could; his precious life. On the Sunday he then gave ‘us’ a final gift. The gift of eternal life, the promise that he would always be with us and that God would send his Spirit. Jesus was a faithful son and offered all this in adoration of the Father. 

    How did God ‘feel’ when all that was given was already given to Jesus. In union the Trinity had from the beginning determined what gifts would be given and the fearful cost of these signs of love for Abba and humankind. As a father I hope that God ‘felt’ in this giving what I do each Father’s Day. When my children come in early on Sunday morning with breakfast and their gifts I will again be overwhelmed. I hope God ‘felt’ this deep emotion.

    The joy I see in my children’s faces and what I feel in their presence makes that moment eternal. Nothing they can give me is worth the love and adoration I receive in being with them in that moment. Nothing makes me want to do better for them and my wife than that moment. 

    That is the essence of Father’s Day.

    Yours in Christ,

    Brendan Nicholls  Liturgy Coordinator  

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