Father Michael Barrow

From the parish of St Francis of Assisi

​OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, OUR FATHER ON EARTH: A REFLECTION BY FR. MICHAEL BARROW, SJ

​OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, OUR FATHER ON EARTH: A REFLECTION BY FR. MICHAEL BARROW, SJ

A puzzling expression Jesus once used "You must call no-one on earth your father since you have only one Father and he is in heaven." (Matt 22.6) We know from other parts of the gospel how much Jesus taught and maintained the importance of honouring father and mother.So obviously he is not asking us to cancel Fathers Day or not to acknowledge how much we owe to our father and mother. Or was he saying that priests should not be called Father? What Jesus was objecting to was people misusing their position. Some Pharisees, insisting on being called Master or Rabbi or Father, were almost demanding the sort of respect that should be shown to God. And since then even in the Church there have been priests who have behaved like that, usurping the position of God. What is so terrible about such misuse of the word 'Father' is that for most of us it is through the love of our mother and father that we come to love God and appreciate God's love for us.

What Jesus objected to was when a father is so demanding and possessive as to take the place of God, not leading his children to be open to the love of God but trying to form them in his own image. God's love is stymied. Such a man, Jesus said, should not be called Father.It is misusing one of the greatest blessings that God has given us - the gift of fatherhood or motherhood, creating and forming a child, not only at the time of pregnancy, but as they grow and mature.By such a gift we become more aware of God's love, even as we impart it to our children.

Fr. Michael Barrow, SJ
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