Today in the Roman Catholic Church we celebrate the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time in our liturgical calendar. In the non-Church calendar on June 21 we celebrate Father’s Day in the United States and the beginning of the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Many will be “worshipping” the “sun god” many days this summer beach season. Our infinitely good and gracious God created beautiful sandy beaches and warm ocean and lake waters for us human beings, His children, to enjoy with many types of water/beach/mountain activities. Our loving Father knows what we need and provides graciously and abundantly out of His unconditional love for us. St Paul reminds us that “all of creation” groans awaiting the “redemption of our bodies” when the 2nd Coming of Christ occurs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the sun, beaches, sand, water and getting a tan, as long as they are enjoyed in moderation and with an understanding that our Father in Heaven created all these things and they are to remind us of Him and His love for us. They are to be enjoyed not as an end in themselves and hence become an idol of our happiness, but LEAD us to our true happiness-our Creator. We are to enjoy them with our bodies, but get refreshment in mind and soul, as well. Enjoying and seeing nature should lead us to God. When people have time to go to the beach on Sunday and no time to worship the Creator the way He deemed to be worshipped as revealed by His Son Jesus Christ, then this becomes a problem for us. How does He want to be worshipped, by participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with love and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body reminds us that it is through our visible bodies and how we live that makes known the reality of the invisible Holy Trinity. Man “fully alive” glorifies the Father. It is not to just seek enjoyment and pleasure for the sake of themselves, but that is should lead us to using the created things of this world prayerfully realizing God is Present in our midst. Everyday we need to “quiet and be still” and know He is Present among us and wants to loves us so deeply, but so many won’t let Him. He calmed the storm and sea in today’s Gospel (St Mark 4:35-41) and wants to calm the storms in our own lives, many by our own creation. He and He alone can do this if we just give Him permission and slow down.
The understanding of true masculinity and manhood is suffering so badly among men in our culture today. We have become a culture of using, abusing, and spitting out. Truly masculine men never use and abuse anyone, especially women and our loved ones. All are to be loved, not used. St. John Paul II reminds us this as He reflects on Jesus’s words on the Sermon on the Mount in Theology of the Body. Lusting and using is not “who we are” it is a diabolical lie spewed from the pit of hell by the Evil One. We are to be truly men of God, sons of the Father and guardians of our personhood and that of our wives, children and parishioners-that is real Fatherhood. Us priests of the Sacred Order are not just “spiritual” Fathers, because we don’t shed our skin when we love people in the confessional or at Holy Mass. We love them with our entire personhood, our masculinity, manhood and even our sexuality. Our Fatherly sexuality cannot be suppressed, but lived out in a way that celebrates the Kingdom of Heaven as St John Paul II calls “celibacy for the Kingdom.” Jesus can calm the storms of the Evil One’s attacks on our Fatherly celibacy by inspiring us to turn to His power at those moments when the tempters waves are about to break over us. These are potential moments of grace, not moments of fear and anguish. We cannot grow and shine without the Son.
So as the sun’s rays go perpendicular with the Equator on June 21, and many are on the beach basking in the sun, allow the Son of God’s gaze to pierce directly into your fatherly priestly heart to realize how blessed we are to offer the gift of celibacy to the Church and the world as a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Father’s unconditional love for us. My brothers have a Blessed Father’s Day! Amen.
Father Tom DeSimone was ordained a priest on May 13, 2006, the Feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. He most recently served as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in White Plains, NY. He joins the staff of the Theology of the Body Institute on a three year leave from the Archdiocese of New York, to become the Institute’s first full time spiritual advisor and Director of Clergy Development.