Reflection of the Gospel reading for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This gospel passage is appropriate for Father’s Day in a way we might not notice immediately. I think most of us probably have an image of our fathers as men who kept us safe—sort of stood between us and a world that would gobble us up.
Fear is a basic emotion. One of the most primitive systems in our brain, fear is shared commonly across all species of animals. It developed early as a feature in our brains, and it was so successful that it really hasn’t changed much over the ages. Fear is a basic emotion, but it is one that the scriptures repeatedly call us to resist.
Jesus repeatedly teaches us to think of God as father. To say that is not to diminish the motherhood of God; God is of course maternal in God’s care for us, but God is also paternal in God’s care for us. Jesus in today’s gospel invites us to depend only on God and rely on nothing else; in a way, it is an invitation to put our trust in the fatherhood of God. The kind of trust that is our call is like when a swimming instructor tells a child to let go and fall into the water. At first, terror grips the child, not believing that support is there. When the child finally relaxes, however, she sees she is indeed floating atop the water: that she is being sustained, and acceptance and serenity accompany that moment.
Jesus calls his disciples in today’s gospel to understand the reality of God’s providence: the assurance that God is the one constant in their lives and the true source of comfort, trust, and faith: that God is a true Father who stands between us and a world that would gobble us up.