Father’s Day Reflection

by Fr. Ryan Riley, Chaplain

It is Father’s Day weekend. Below is a painting by Carl Bloch, “The Healing of the Blind Man.” I offer this as a reflection for fathers:

Look closely at the child in the background – the smile on his face as he gazes at Jesus. He’s going to break through. He wants to break through. He wants to get close. He’s curious but he’s even more excited to see Jesus. But, notice the father, hesitatingly holding him back. Perhaps he’s worried about what might happen if his son gets too close to Jesus. Will his son change? How might his son be affected?

What happened to the child in us? Can we go back to when we first encountered Jesus? What was it like? Do we even remember? What has happened since then – all these years later? Have we lost that childlike abandonment to our eternal Father?

Do we hold our sons and daughters back because of our own indifference or because of fear?

This Father’s Day, let us reclaim our childlike innocence, our childlike abandonment to a Father who constantly loves us into existence. Let’s gaze on Jesus with the wonder, awe, excitement and hope of a child. Let’s not hold our kids back.

This Father’s Day will be the 6th since being ordained a priest and being called ‘Father Ryan.’ I pray into that title all the time because it is more than a title, it is a reality. As a spiritual father I am called to communicate the love of God and offer new life through the sacraments of the Church. That’s what good fathers do – communicate love and generate life. Earlier this year, as I was walking into the school, one of our freshmen, Alex, ran up to me and asked me a question. “Would you be my confirmation sponsor?” Of course I would! It is in moments like those that the reality of being a father really hit me. All of the interactions with our students – the simple high fives in the hallways, the one-on-one conversations in my office, students hanging out before or after school, students eating lunch in my office, – are reminders to me of the responsibility of being their spiritual father. I am so immensely grateful for the gift that being their high school chaplain is.

Our families are the domestic Church and our fathers (and mothers) are the primary educators of their children, especially when it comes to communicating faith, hope, and love. As we pray on Father’s Day, let us reclaim our own childlike faith in Christ so as not to hold the kids back from running to him.

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