“Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God.” Luke 8:1 (NRSV)
This week’s gospel lesson is about Jesus visiting a Pharisee, and while he is there having a meal with him (and a bunch of other guys), a woman comes into the house to wash Jesus’ feet. Of course, Simon the Pharisee was quite judgmental, not only of the woman, but also of Jesus. And, then at the end of this lection, we have this small paragraph that sort of throws in a message about all the women who accompanied Jesus and his disciples and who cared for them, even out of their own resources.
So what does this have to do with Father’s Day. I turn to my own father to answer that. Jesus taught Simon about hospitality. He told Simon that the woman had washed his feet, and Simon had not offered such a gift (which was a usual custom for guests in those days). My dad (and mom, too) taught me a lot about hospitality.
When I was growing up, we often had extended family members and friends who were invited to our table for holidays or special occasions. My friends were always welcome in our home, and when I was in college, my friends there considered my parents like their second set of parents because they were always included in meals out (which dad paid for) and welcome in our home if I went home for a week-end or time off from school.
I can remember as a much younger child when a hobo came to the door (back in the 1950’s hobos were wandering men – mostly men – who were homeless and would beg for food from door to door). We were eating our lunch, and my mother strictly ordered us to stay seated at the table and keep quiet. The man asked for food, and Mom got up and made some sandwiches for him for Dad to take back to him. After thanking Dad profusely (we couldn’t see him but could hear the conversation), the man went on his way. Not much was said about it, but it left an impression on me.
My dad treated the man with respect and helped him even though we struggled to put food on our own table. We also learned about caution, but to not be afraid to help people who needed help.
If we think about the hospitality Jesus showed in welcome everyone to the kingdom of God, we have an idea about the hospitality God offers us. We are all God’s children, and our earthly parents can reflect that love and acceptance to us. Unfortunately, not all parents, and particularly fathers, have been the epitome of showing God’s hospitality even to their own children.
On the other hand, many good fathers are out there, and there are often men who have been father figures to children who have no one to call Dad. It seems to me that good fathers are those who reflect the love of God to their children or surrogate children. That includes listening, showing up to support them in their activities, supporting them to the best of their abilities, caring about them no matter how old they are, and just being part of their lives on a regular basis.
God is there for us always. Fathers who share the love of God not only speak it but also live it. May all the fathers, dads, surrogate fathers be blessed this coming Sunday and every day as they continue to do their best for their children, regardless of whether or not they are biologically theirs. God bless Dads!