A few years ago at the Paris opera house, a famous singer had been contracted to sing, and the show was a sellout. The opening night sense of anticipation and excitement was still in the air as the house manager took the stage and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your enthusiastic support. I am afraid, however, that due to illness, the man whom you’ve all come to hear will not be performing tonight. But don’t worry, his stand-in is excellent. We know you will love the show.”
The crowd groaned in disappointment. The environment turned from excitement to frustration.
Now, the stand-in performer gave the performance everything he had. He was amazing. When he had finished, there was nothing but an uncomfortable silence. No one applauded. They were so busy being disappointed they hadn’t really appreciate the wonderful performance they had just seen.
Then suddenly, from the balcony, a little boy stood up and shouted, “Dad, I think you are wonderful!” The crowd, shaken back into the moment, broke into thunderous applause.
The boy spoke up. The boy led the way.
I bet Jesus could relate to that man on stage. Sure, His disciples acknowledge Him as the Anointed One of God, but he was not what most of them had expected. They were looking for physical security and prosperity. They wanted revenge on their oppressors. But this Messiah offered neither. He would end up dying on a cross.
Knowing our first reading from Zechariah, the disciples were waiting for God to “pour out His spirit of grace and understanding” over the house of David, to make them a great nation once again.
But Peter doesn’t care about what the other disciples or Jewish leaders think. He finds the courage to stand up, just like that little boy, and say “You are wonderful… You are the Messiah, the Christ of God.”
Peter was grateful for all the sacrifices that Jesus made salvation. Grateful for Jesus’ presence. Grateful for His courage. Grateful for His love.
And isn’t that what Father’s Day is all about? Isn’t it about our opportunity to stand up and say “Dad, I think you are wonderful!” You know, that story does not tell us about the relationship the singer had with his son, but I bet it was special. Peter loved Jesus dearly as well.
Would you have done the same? Would you have stood up, like the little boy, like Peter, and shouted out what was on your heart? For your dad?
Let’s pray for that strength today, pouring out from hearts filled with gratitude, with the help of a reflection I’ve adapted, originally offered by Tony Rossi on his blog at Patheos.com
“Lord, today we ask You to bless our earthly fathers for the many times they reflected the love, strength, generosity, wisdom and mercy that You share with us, Your children.
We honor our fathers for putting our needs above their own convenience and comfort; for teaching us to show courage and determination in the face of adversity; for challenging us to move beyond our obstacles, for modeling what it means to be responsible, principled, caring adults.
Sadly, not all our fathers lived up to these ideals. Lord, give them the grace to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes. Give us the grace to extend to them the same forgiveness that you offer us. Help us to resist the urge to stay stuck in past bitterness. May we move forward with humility and a peaceful heart.
Lord, bless those men who served as father figures in our lives when maybe our biological fathers weren’t able to do so. May the love and selflessness they showed us be reflected back to them in all their relationships, and help them to know that their influence has changed us for the better.
Lord, give new and future fathers the guidance they need to raise happy and holy children, grounded in a love for God and other people, and remind these fathers that treating their wives with dignity, compassion and respect is one of the greatest gifts they can give their children.
And finally, may our fathers who have passed into the next life remain in Your loving embrace, and that our family will one be day be reunited in your heavenly kingdom.
In union with St. Joseph, whom you entrusted with Your Son,
we ask Your generous blessings today and every day.”