Celebrating Father’s Day

Every family needs a father.  Today we shall reflect on the value of his role, and I would like to begin with a few expressions that we find in the Book of Proverbs, words that a father addresses to his own son, and it reads like this: ‘My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. My soul will rejoice when your lips speak what is right’ [Pr 23:15-16]. Nothing could better express the pride and emotion a father feels when he understands that he has handed down to his child what really matters in life, that is, a wise heart. This father does not say: ‘I am proud of you because you are the same as me, because you repeat the things I say and do.’ No, he does not say anything so simple to him. He says something much more important, which we can understand in this way: ‘I will be happy every time I see you act with wisdom, and I will be moved every time that I hear you speak with rectitude. This is what I wanted to leave to you, that this one thing become yours: the attitude to feel and act, to speak and judge with wisdom and rectitude. And that you might be like this, I taught you the things you didn’t know, I corrected the errors you didn’t see. I made you feel a profound and at the same time discrete affection, which maybe you did not fully recognize when you were young and unsure. I gave you a testimony of rigor and steadfastness that perhaps you didn’t understand, when you would have liked only complicity and protection. I had first to test myself in the wisdom of my heart, be vigilant of my excesses of sentiment and resentment, in order to carry the weight of the inevitable misunderstandings, to find the right words to make myself understood.’ Now, continues the father, ‘I see that you strive to be this way with your own children, and with everyone, and it moves me. I am happy to be your father.’ This is what a wise father, a mature father, says. A father knows all too well what it costs to hand down this heritage: how close, how gentle and how firm to be. But what consolation and what recompense he receives when the children honor this legacy! It is a joy that rewards all the toil, that overcomes every misunderstanding and heals every wound.”

Pope Francis, General Audience,
February 4, 2015

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