You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments. (Romans 13.10)
If two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them (Matthew 18.20)
We know so little about Joseph.
He was there for Mary, when she was pregnant with Jesus. Loyal and steadfast. Non-judgemental. He stayed true to his word, despite a culture that would have demanded he act differently.
Guide and protector, we hear how he was there on the journey to Jerusalem, searching for accommodation, fleeing to Egypt in the face of danger, coming to reside in Nazareth, nurturing and caring for Jesus as a child.
We know so little of him, save that Jesus was the carpenter’s son, known for his role within the community. (Matthew 13.55).
Quietly, yet significantly, present.
Simplicity his trademark.
Yet when Jesus came to teach his disciples about God, isn’t it amazing that the image from his experience that best approximated his understanding of God was the image of Father. So powerful was Jesus’ own experience of fatherhood, that he likened the love and care, the guidance and protection of a father to the way God in heaven loves and cares for, guides and protects, us all.
He told stories of the unconditional love of a Father for his child:
“While he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
Fatherhood for him represented hospitality and welcome, traits that Jesus made his own:
“In my Father’s house there are many rooms… If you know me, you will know my Father also.” (John 14:2,6)
In his moment of greatest anguish, as they came to arrest him and put him to death, he cried out for his ‘daddy’ with unconditional trust and hope:
“Abba, Father, for you all things are possible.” (Mark 14.36)
In gratitude for all he had, it was his Father he recognised as his provider:
“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” (Matthew 11.25)
And his ultimate destiny and voice was that which came from his Father:
“Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14.23)
And when his disciples asked him to teach them how to pray, it was the image of Father that captured for Jesus the unconditional love, care and protection of the eternal and all powerful God:
May your name be held holy.
Give us each day what we need to survive.
Forgive us when we fail
And protect us in times of trial.
May all our fathers on this Father’s Day be blessed with love and peace, strength and courage, today and always.