The Irreplaceable Identity
Our identity leads to our destiny, and the world’s destiny is related to our identity. The question of “Who am I” relates to the question “Why do I exist?” If we do not understand who we are, we will have difficulty becoming who we are called to be. Being FOSJ we understand that we are defined by our vocation—that divine calling to follow God. If we are husbands, if we are fathers, then this is the vocation, the path, that God has marked out for us to achieve greatness. We are not defined as much by our occupation as by our vocation. We are not defined by what we “do” as much as by who we are. At work, we are replaceable. At home we are irreplaceable. Our identity is this: we are icons of God the Father. We are a link between heaven and earth, between our children and God. We are the face of the Father that our children cannot see, the voice of the Father our children cannot hear, and the touch of the Father that our children cannot feel. (See Eph 3:15, Matt 6) Our fatherhood has been created to remind the world of God’s Fatherhood. As men, our essence—at the core of our being—we are initiators, generators of self giving love—we set the pace of self-giving love. If we don’t who will? By assuming charitable authority to protect, feed and teach, setting the pace of self giving love, and becoming icons of God the Father, we become like St. Joseph, a Custos—a true guardian, protector and keeper of the family. By fulfilling this identity, we achieve our destiny, which is union and communion with God, but also, we assist our wives and children in achieving this destiny.
A Father’s Challenge to be the son
There is, however, a slight challenge: in order to set the pace of self-giving love, to become a Custos, to become an icon of God the Father, I must first be a trusting son of God. To believe in God is one thing, to implicitly and wholeheartedly entrust our loves to Him is another thing altogether. This can be a tremendous challenge. God is perfect. I am a sinner. He is the judge, and I am guilty. This guilt tends to haunt us, and secretly accuse us. In fact, often, at a very subconscious level, we may believe that because of this guilt, this sin, God is not really for us. Often, there exists in the shadows of our heart,this idea that God is actually out to “get us,” that He doesn’t want us to be too happy, or to experience pleasure, or to enjoy life. Because of this, a tension arises within a man’s soul, between wanting to trust in a God Who says that He loves me, or disbelieving Him because I am not sure when He is going to blast this scum-ball sinner off the face of the earth into eternal oblivion. But, at least when feeling this way, I can rest assured and trust in the fact that God the Father sacrificed His own Son in order that I may have life—right? Wrong.
Perhaps this is the reason why men often fall into the trap of thinking that God is out “to get them” or that “He doesn’t want us to succeed.” We have not so much been taught, but rather, caught this idea that God killed His Son, and if He can do that to His very own Son, what will stop Him from doing that to me?
The Real Father Wound
My brother’s mother-in-law tells the story that years ago she was tidying up her house after her children were finished playing. As she was cleaning, she discovered an unwrapped, fun-size baby Ruth laying on the floor. Now, she did what any overworked, underpaid, tired mom who needs a bit of consolation would do—she stuck it in her mouth. The only problem was that it wasn’t a fun-size Baby Ruth, but rather, a turd. When we feel guilty because of our sins and then consider that God sacrificed His own Son for us, it initially gives us a sense of consolation. But after taking that idea in, there is a lingering sense of doubt about God’s love. It’s like thinking you’re getting the Baby Ruth, but instead you get the turd. This is the devils’ tactic: to wound us with this lie—the lie that God is not really a merciful Father. This is the real “father-wound” inflicted upon us by the father of lies, whose purpose is to convince us that God in not a truly forgiving and generous Father, but would rather smote us for each and every grievance made against Him. This wound runs deep, causing all sorts of disordered behaviors. We tend to grasp for more, seek affirmation from men, want to be noticed, be jealous of others, or we bury our talents, and do nothing with them because deep down, we don’t believe that the Father has chosen us, desired us, or delights in us. Deep down we believe Him to be harsh and cruel.
Set Free to Sacrifice
The truth is not that God killed His Son. Rather, God became man, became one of us, and offered Himself on behalf of us, taking that father-wound upon Himself—the abandonment of the Father—to ensure that we would be healed by the Father’s love. God the Father ordained this as an act of justice for the reparation of sins. Jesus paid a debt that He did not owe because we owed a debt that we could not pay. The Father and the Son, together, willed this act in order to glorify God, glorify man and save man. God the Father ordained and inspired His Son to desire to offer Himself, and God the Father with the Son, permitted it and did not intervene.
God became man and embraced our shame and sin, in order that we could have His glory and greatness. Amazing. This truth ought to inspire us, with childlike trust, to call God our Daddy, “Abba,” Father. This truth should set us free.
But what does this truth set us free to do? This truth empowers us to sacrifice—to offer—ourselves to God, without wondering if bolts of fire will instantly descend from the heavens and incinerate us. This is the truth: God the Father did not coerce or force His Son to offer Himself for us—God the Son desired to offer Himself for you and me. God does not coerce or force any of us to offer ourselves to him on behalf of our wives, children, friends, or even our enemies. But to become the true man, to become an icon of the Father, a Custos, a man who sets the pace of self-giving love, we must first become a son who trusts his heavenly Father enough to freely offer his life to the Father for the sake of his household.
The TRUE OFFERING
Joseph was a Custos, a guardian who offered his life to God, trusting that the Father would grant success to the work of his hands, and aid him in fulfilling his mission. It was Joseph’s duty to train Jesus in the 3 forms of sacrificial discipleship: initiating, that is, Joseph initiated Jesus into a life of self-offering; unitive, that is Joseph offered Himself in union with Jesus to God, and vicarious, that is, Joseph’s example of love and sacrifice lived on in Christ—even to the cross. In other words, Joseph like the Father, ordained, inspired and permitted Jesus to fulfill His act of self-offering.
Like Joseph, it is our duty to raise our children by means of these 3 forms of sacrificial discipleship.
Joseph’s sacrifice of himself, enabled him to prepare Jesus for His ultimate sacrifice. Our children, at some level, are dependent upon our offering—our entrustment and sacrifice of ourselves—to God. This demands great courage and great trust in our loving Father.
Our destiny, and our children’s destiny—to a great extent— are dependent upon our childlike trust in Abba, Papa, Daddy. It is our duty to our wives and family to, as Jesus did, entrust our fatherhood to St. Joseph, who will in turn, entrust us to the Father.