Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers. I would like to share with you a Father’s Day greeting sent by a boy to his father. “Although I may not say this often but I’m so thankful to have you. You have been such an inspiration to me, and I take all your life lessons to heart. I have always looked up to you as the ideal man for all the things you have taught me and guided me through the years. I will always look up to you as a man of principle and values. I will never cease to follow your footsteps and make the right decisions as what you have taught me. Thank you so much”. Fathers thank you very much for being the man of your children’s life. If you ever failed in your responsibility, it is the right time to get back on the right track. I am very proud of my father for he has been my strength whenever I had been weak. He provided me and protected me when I could not do it for myself and taught me to stand on my own two feet. He helped me to make the right decisions whenever I was in a dilemma. And his faith in God and his faithful life sowed the seed of divine vocation in my heart. I believe his love for his parish and his friendship with the priest, made me make the decision to become a priest; for they were constant visitors of our home and still are. So I got a good chance to observe them and learn from them. I would like to share with you a story of a boy, who was guided by his parents and his personal relationship with Jesus and achieved greatness in his life which otherwise would have been a great failure.
A 15-year-old boy and his father were driving past a tiny airport in a small town in Ohio. Suddenly a low-flying plane spun out of control and nose-dived into the runway. The boy yelled, “Dad! Dad! Stop the car!” Minutes later the boy was pulling the pilot out of the plane. It was a 20-year-old student flier, who had been practicing takeoffs and landings. The young man died in the boy’s arms. When the boy got home, he threw his arms around his mother and cried, “Mom, he was my friend! He was only 20!” That night the boy was still too shocked to eat supper. He went to his room, closed the door, and lay on his bed. The boy had been working part-time in a drugstore. Every penny he made he spent on flying lessons. His goal was to get his pilot’s license when he turned 16. The boy’s parents wondered what effect the tragedy would have on their son. Would he stop taking lessons, or would he continue? They agreed that the decision would have to be his.
Two days later the boy’s mother brought some freshly baked cookies to her son’s room. On his dresser she saw an open notebook. It was one he had kept from childhood. Across the top of the page was written, in big letters, “The Character of Jesus”. Beneath was listed a series of qualities:
“Jesus was sinless; he was humble; he championed the poor; he was unselfish; he was close to God…” The mother saw that in her son’s hour of decision he was turning to Jesus for guidance. Then she turned to her son and said, “What have you decided about flying?” The boy looked into his mother’s eyes and said, “Mom, I hope you and Dad will understand, but with God’s help, I must continue to fly.” That boy was Neil Armstrong. And on July 20, 1969, he became the first human being to walk on the moon. Few people who watched that historic event on television knew that one of the reasons Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon was Jesus. They didn’t know that it was from Jesus that he drew strength and guidance to make a crucial teenage decision that was now responsible for his walking on the moon.
Today’s Gospel reading invites me to give a personal answer to the question of Jesus “Who do you say that I am” by looking into our heart and describing how we experience Jesus in our personal life. And that experience is different for each of us. For some of us Jesus is a person we can turn to for guidance in times of confusion. For others, he is someone we can turn to for strength in times of trials. For still others, he is someone who understands us, even when we don’t understand ourselves. And we are also invited to be Christ for others to enjoy the guidance and strength in their lives. Let us pray “Lord! Be a bright flame before me. Be a guiding star above me. Be a smooth path below me. Be a kindly shepherd behind me. Be these things today, tonight, and forever”. Amen.
God Bless You,