What better way to begin our 7G formation series than a session on The Father’s Love. It’s huge. It’s huge because most of us have not experienced fatherhood/priesthood and we cannot fathom the unconditional love a father so readily gives his child (or in the case of a priest, his people). Many of us draw parallels between our relationship with our earthly fathers and our heavenly Father. We may have grown up with austere and unaffectionate father figures or constantly absent fathers. As such, our images of God the Father become that of a disciplinarian, a I’ll-reward-you-only-if-you-are-good figure, someone cold and distant. In a way, we limit His love.
However, through the personal sharing by our community members in their testimony of God the Father’s love in their lives, we recognize that our earthly fathers love us tremendously, in their quiet and constant ways. What more of our heavenly Father then? In the Love Letter to us by our Heavenly Father, He says “I am not distant and angry, I am the complete expression of love.” (1 John 4:16) “The question is… will you be my child?” (John 1:12-13) Indeed, have we opened our hearts, minds and spirits to fully know our Father and allow Him to love us tenderly in His warm embrace?
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, we see this complete expression of God the Father’s love in the free will He gives us, how He lavishes grace and forgiveness to us, loving us unconditionally and how He rejoices in our return. The word ‘prodigal’ means extravagant, lavish and unrestrained. In this parable, the centrestage is actually The Prodigal God- the spotlight is never off Him. The prodigal Father lavishes love and undeserved favor on both his lost sons hoping to bring them home. How amazing is this Father of ours who responds to our weaknesses by His patience!
Like typical Asian children, we too find it hard to say “I love you” to our fathers. (It seems easier to say it to our pet dog or goldfish or even our toy Snorlax than our fathers). These unspoken words of appreciation and love only come out during our wedding speeches. But hey, we do not wait till we’re about to leave the nest before we tell our fathers how much we appreciate him. We can start today =)
Because I love you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)