A Father’s Secret Service
Last meeting we discussed the human father’s role in the economy of salvation by comparing him to the servant at the wedding at Cana. Mary tells us servants to do whatever Jesus tells us. We must listen to Jesus, then act; pray and then do. We obey Jesus—even when it appears illogical—and fill our jars, that is our work, to the brim. Meaning that we do all of our work with excellence and to the best of our ability. But in the end, the fact is, we have only gathered water – it is not wine.
Only Jesus can transform our works, our labors—regardless of how incredible they may be—into wine, into divine grace—grace that changes people’s lives. God the Father desires us fathers to work with Him to save souls. This is our glory: we are allowed to participate in God’s works. But remember, we cannot transform the water we gather into wine. We can’t even create water. We can only fill our jars with the water—with good works. Which raises an important question: How can a father’s works be acceptable to the Father and be transformed by Jesus into wine—into grace?
In Our Lord’s sermon on the mount, Jesus reveals the secret of how the Father works, which is also the secret to a father’s success. The secret is secrecy. From our Lord’s words we learn three things that will radically transform our fatherhood if we believe them: 1) God desires that we work with Him. That we be glorified by participating with Him—but in a secret manner: “Give in secret”, “Pray in secret”, “Fast in secret”; we are to do everything in a discreet, secret manner. 2) By acting in secrecy we become real fathers. As Jesus said, you will be like “your Father Who is in secret.” (Matt 7) God gloriously created the world, created man, works in our lives, accomplishes the greatest of all works—secretly. He never boasts about it. In fact, the Father is so humble that He is willing to let atheists say that He doesn’t exist because He “is in secret.” 3) If we labor in secret God will reward us. So what are these rewards?
God grants many rewards to those whose fatherhood is accomplished in secret, but for now we will only discuss three: 1) The more secret your fatherhood is, the more God the Father is made known. 2) Secrecy defeats pride. By asking for and receiving the gift of secrecy you will become humble, capable of defeating pride and of giving glory to God. 3) You will become a real man. Real men don’t complain, boast or brag. They simply carry our their works in secret, thinking nothing of it, “not letting their left hand know what the right is doing.” We admire men like this because they are like our Father in heaven. The world needs men like this. Our children need men like this.
Three examples: 1) Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. He took his slaves close to mount Moriah, the place of sacrifice, but did not mention the deed that He was about to perform to his servants or his son Isaac. He offered the heartache of having to sacrifice his son, secretly, to the Father. 2) St. Joseph was called by God to flee from Herod in the darkness of night. He did so without telling a soul. In secret, he saved Jesus’ life. The secret works of both of these men became known by means of their sons. Their sons lives transmitted each of their stories of glory. 3) Steve Mueller, a member of our confraternity died on Valentines Day. Yesterday, his two daughters, before a full assembly, proclaimed that Steve was a father who loved them and by loving them taught them how to love. Beautiful. Steve’s secret works of fatherhood are known to the world—even to us today.
How do secret works work? The dew in the fields, the moisture from the seas and oceans, mist in the air—all almost imperceptible to the human eye—rise into the atmosphere, and over time collect, eventually becoming clouds that collect and gather with other clouds until, one day, God strikes the clouds and they pour rain upon the earth, which brings forth fruit and harvest. So too, our little secret offerings are done without boasting or complaining, are offered almost without notice. God gathers these secret offerings, strikes them with lightening and lets his grace pour down upon those in need. He transforms the secret water of our interior works into wine—into grace that transforms the people around us.