12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This is Father’s Day in the United States, first envisioned by a woman attending services at an Episcopalian church in 1909 in Spokane, Wash., on Mother’s Day. She thought similar recognition was due for fathers, so eventually this day came to be.
Rare would be the parish liturgy that failed to note Father’s Day, but the Liturgy of the Word was composed for the entire world and for many people who do not observe American holidays. So, the readings are not strictly for Father’s Day, but they coincidentally have a theme not far removed from what we venerate in good fatherhood.
The first reading is from the Book of Zechariah, who was of the priestly caste, born in Babylon during the captivity in the sixth century B.C. He began to prophesy as a young man.
Zechariah called the people of his time to faithfulness and to obedience to God’s law. Also, he reminded the people of God’s love and goodness.
This reading refers to an unnamed victim of the destruction of Jerusalem. This victim will be greatly mourned. The victim was uncompromisingly true to God.
Pious Christians have seen in the reading a reflection Jesus, the Son of God and Redeemer, loyal to God to the end.
Next, the Church presents a lesson from the epistle to the Galatians. It states that each person is a child of God, because each person, through the Incarnation, is a human brother or sister of Jesus. Each believer has been “clothed” with Christ, intimately and indelibly bonded with God, in Christ.
St. Luke’s Gospel is the source of the last reading. In this passage, Jesus asks how the Apostles view him. Peter replies that Jesus is the “Messiah of God.” Peter’s confession on faith in Jesus reveals two important catechetical points.
The first is that Peter spoke for the Twelve. The Gospel recorded Peter’s statement. Secondly, Peter was inspired and wise enough to recognize Jesus. Go no farther than the four Gospels to find evidence of Peter’s importance in the unfolding of salvation in Jesus.
The Lord then declares that true discipleship is more than a warm feeling of somehow vaguely being connected with Jesus or admiring Him. Instead, it is a wholehearted identification with the Lord, verified by literally walking with Christ through the difficulties of life. Each true disciple must also carry the cross as Jesus carried the cross.
This weekend in the United States we celebrate Father’s Day. The readings provide an idea of the goodness to us of God, the eternal Father.
The first reading was from Zechariah. Born when Jews were held in captivity in a foreign, hostile environment, Zechariah benefited from being in the generation that was released from this captivity and was able to return to the Jewish homeland. He, and his contemporaries, never saw this release as the result of mere luck or coincidence. Rather, in their minds, God rescued them.
Galatians obliquely refers to God’s love. God sent Jesus to humanity. In Jesus, humans can become nothing less than heirs to eternal peace. In Jesus, humans become brothers and sisters of the Son of God, with God their Father in a most special sense.
St. Luke’s Gospel further describes Jesus as God’s gift. As said by Peter, the Lord is the messiah. He frees us from our sin.
God loves us as a perfect, loving, forgiving and providing Father. However, God’s love does not drag us away from ourselves. We must turn to God with true conviction. We must even carry the cross on occasion.
Carrying the cross is a struggle. Nevertheless, our loving Father assists us with the divine help of Jesus, and our loving Father awaits us with everlasting life at the end of our earthly struggle.
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