St. Augustine of Hippo


Episcopal Church

 


Father Laborer or Father Sperm Donor


June 18, 2017


The Reverend Nathanael Saint-Pierre 



Please allow me to wish all fathers of our church a Happy Father’s Day! I have invited you to bring your fathers to church today and some of you have. I did tell you that those of you who couldn’t have your fathers physically with us, could bring them virtually. For this to happen, we have given you two options: some of you brought a picture, some of you came with your phones so that you can Skype/FaceTime them. I hope wherever those who cannot make it physically here today may be: in heaven, on earth or under the earth, they know how much they are loved. They know we think about them. They know we value their contributions to our lives and that they are worth remembering and remembered.  


For you who are here, fathers brought here by children, fathers who came here by themselves, and fathers who are here while their children are somewhere else, it is nice to have you with us to celebrate fatherhood together and to share in the love of God, the best father we look up to, to find out what kind of father we ought to be. 


Life is a journey in which we are all participating. My hope is that today’s celebration is not just a chance to match or get back at women (a way to be in opposition to motherhood, a charade of Mother’s Day celebration), but an opportunity to evaluate each one’s role in our society and make it a better place for our children to live.   


“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” The stress people were living with in Jesus’ time is still very present in our lives today. People are harassed, required to perform in order to meet their needs; one provider is not sufficient anymore. Both parents must work and, even when they do, their income is not sufficient. In the midst of all that, governments are cutting off essential services, taxing the powerless, giving tax credits to the wealthiest, playing politics with people’s lifeline. These are the times in which we are called to be fathers and parents. These are the times we are called to minister to the needy. 


If we fall into the trap of imperialism, we will start to compete under the same roof. We will look at which one of the parents is earning more to dispute or resolve who’s the head of the household. The culture of our society seems to head in that direction. Control and power seem to reside in the hands of the one who is earning more. But the work is too vast for us to believe we can handle it on our own (alone); even when one is earning more, the other is needed. Our prayer is for father to be laborer not just sperm donor. A father needs to be among the laborers Jesus spoke about. Unfortunately, we have more sperm donors than we have laborers/fathers. Just look around and see… I won’t name names but right here today you know of a young woman walking with her baby alone, caring for her child by herself, having different men in the lives of her babies… 2 babies with 3 fathers because the man in her life now is not the father of the 2 children she had, one with each previous partner. Today is an opportunity for us to pray the Lord to bring up fathers who care in our midst, fathers who dare. People who take fatherhood seriously enough to invest themselves into caring for their children. 

 

I feel blessed that God made me a father, not only in the flesh by giving me two children, now grownups, but also spiritually, by giving me you to care for. Now, I won’t lie to myself and to you, I am not the ideal father God intended; not yet. Sometimes, I am hard on you, and you don’t like it; but I must do my best to face the multiple responsibilities of leading this spiritual family every day. The decisions and choices are not always easy. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of duties that fall onto my plate. Sometimes, I am angry because I can’t do much more. But what is nerve-racking to me, is to see people pretending they are fathers, not embracing their fair share in the lives of their children. Father who prefer to blame mother for keeping them out of the field on which their kids are brought up. Being a father is not to acquire a title or a sign of nobility. Sometimes, we forget that the parent figure is the most important model in the life of the child of the same sex. Sometimes we flee instead of standing to manifestly be involved in our children’s life.   

 

Fatherhood is an opportunity given to men to be and to act godly. It is a call with a commission (not a mission) we are called to co-parent. We are mandated to be like sheep in the midst of wolves; we are called to be wise as serpents (not snakes) and innocent as doves. We need to clean our own houses first before we go out cleaning the houses of others. God gave us the responsibility to provide and take care of the family. God calls us to get involved and stop behaving like outsiders. God asks us to protect the ones entrusted to us.  


Finally, the Gospel today is a call to discipleship. We need to know who we are and what God’s plan for us is. Following Jesus is not easy; it requires many sacrifices. We will face many difficulties in the course of ministry. To succeed, we need to give ourselves away (be disinterested) so that God can use us. A disciple is someone who follows a master, learning from what the master does. So, looking at the love of God as incarnate in Jesus, we are called to replicate that love around us. We need to be ready to face the fiery ordeals of life, because if Jesus had to face them we will also. 


May God bring his spirit into us so that we can be the house of love where we are all called to minister to one another and make disciples, baptizing people in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.