Father's Day — Malnourishment!
by V. Rev. Fr. James C. Meena
In times past sociological and historical studies have shown that the human creature has developed along certain lines. On this Father's Day I would like to share some feelings with you about that. In old times, fathers used to teach their sons to hunt, to fish, to do battle, to build, to tend their livestock, to plant, to harvest. Mothers used to teach their daughters to weave garments, to take care of the household, to attend to the needs of the men of the family and prepare them to be wives and mothers. Today we're not too far removed from the same basic concept. Fathers teach their sons and mothers teach their daughters what they consider to be necessary for survival in this society, at least they think they do.
They teach them that it's necessary to go to school, it's essential to have a good education, to find a good job, to have a good steady and solid income, to be secure, to look out for their future. But there is something missing. I think the element that is missing is born witness to by the fact that there are relatively so few fathers and sons and daughters in Church today, on this very special holiday. That element is that in ancient times and even in recently modern times, the times of our parents, all these elements necessary for survival were taught to the sons by their fathers and to the daughters by their mothers accompanied by an understanding of the need of the fear and the love of God.
If we read throughout the scriptures of the Old Testament we find that the chosen people of God never needed for anything or suffered any kin of turmoil as long as they were faithful to the covenant of God; so long as they preserved intact the Commandments that He handed down to them and worshipped Him in faith and fear, (awed respect for His power). But when they failed to bring up their sons in this faith and fear and love of God, when their sons and daughters grew up in disobedience to their parents and to their God, God turned His Wrath upon the whole nation. He turned His face away from them only when they turned their faces away from Him. Now that sounds like a logical bargain to me. However God is not a God of bargains. God makes a covenant with his creatures and He always stands by his covenant. The Psalmist said, "If my father and mother forsake me, my God never will," (Ps. 27:10). So God will never abandon us and yet we, time and time again, turn away from Him.
What are we giving to our children for their survival? What are we giving them of substance, of lasting value, of real meaning? I mean, is it enough just to make money, to own a home, to invest in property, in stocks and bonds and to build up earthly resources? If that's all life is about it's better that mankind should become extinct immediately. But we, as a believing people, understand that life is essential to us so that we might glorify our Father Who is in heaven. Our Lord said in the Gospel of St. Matthew (10:32-33), "If any man confesses me before men, I will confess him before my Father who is in heaven. If any man denies me before men, then I will deny him before my Father who is in heaven. "It's simple: he who lives an exemplary life is one to be admired, respected and emulated.
When I was a boy, my father and mother taught me that such virtues as honor and integrity and self-respect were essential to my survival as a human being, as a child of God; that a person without honor and integrity and self-respect could not live in a society of Godly men and women. Our children are dying of spiritual malnutrition. We are so dedicated to feeding them, clothing them, putting away money for their education, giving them a good time, buying them all sorts of comforts and luxuries whether they need them or not because of peer pressure, we are so consecrated to the idea that our children have got to have everything that we didn't have when we were young that we have forgotten the value of the work ethic, we have forgotten how important it is that our children learn that there is God Who loves them and cares about them and to Whom they owe a loyalty and a responsibility We set very inappropriate examples for our children in this modern society Let me give you an example.
Young people love to have parties. When I was a teenager a party meant to go across town if you had to but get there because it was a chance to enjoy fellowship and fun with people of your own age on a certain level where there was no serious talk about anything, just enjoying one another. Somehow or other as the generation of today has taken that same concept and degenerated it to the point where in many instances, young people will refuse to have parties in their homes, on their birthdays with other teenage friends unless their parents serve alcoholic beverages. "My friends just won't come if you don't have a keg of beer there." What is worse is that the parents accede to this demand. The parents, rather than upholding the law of the land and upholding the laws of God, succumb to the demands of their children and they have a keg of beer and maybe a few bottles of wine and many even a few pills, a little pot, I mean who knows. When a young person whose mind and spirit is still malleable sees an adult who is supposed to be a Godly person, especially one who is identified with the Church in any way, giving approval to even one of these transgressions, something so seemingly insignificant as drinking beer, that young person immediately understands that he has the tacit approval of the adult world to drink hard liquor, to smoke pot and to do drugs and to have sex. I mean, after all, if you approve of one concept of this new morality, why not approve of all of them?
Now that's the kind of example that is being set in our society and I think that we as Christians have to have the courage to stand up and say, as our forefathers did, "We will not bow down and worship the vulgarities of this society. We will not give in to the pressures of the world which says to us, 'spill blood before false idols and false gods.'" Our forefathers rejected this. Martyrs dating back to thousands of years before the time of Christ, right up until the present day, have died rather than deny their faith. Don't we have the courage to say to our children then, "No! I will not deny my faith. I will not renounce my God just so you can have beer at your birthday party."
Forget the legal aspects. Forget the fact that if one of those teenagers was going to have beer at your house and was involved in an accident on the way home you would be held responsible. If he was arrested for drunk driving on the way home, you would be held responsible for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Forget that! Think rather what are you doing to diminish the morality, the integrity, the honor and the faith of the next generation when you betray your own faith and when you convey a message of hypocrisy to those young people. What are you saying to them? You are saying, hypocrisy is the thing. Do it. Do just as I do.
I know that most of you think that you are good fathers. I know you are trying in your own way to be such. But I say to you that if you are not sharing the love of God with your children, if you are not growing in spirit with them, if you are not sharing with them the life of Christ and bringing them into full discipleship so that they can stand in the midst of the congregation and bear witness to their faith in God before men, rather than renouncing Him by their actions, then your fatherhood is in question. There is more to being a parent than just feeding, clothing, sheltering and educating your children
. . . there is God . . .
. . . never forget
THERE IS GOD.
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America