A priest was invited to dinner by a young family in his parish. He arrived appropriately dressed in his clerical attire and soon became the fascination of their little five-year-old boy. At one point early on in the visit, the priest noticed the young boy staring at his Roman collar. Finally, the priest asked the boy pointing to his collar, “Johnny, do you know what this is?” The boy was silent for a moment and then the priest said, “It’s a collar.” Then he asked, “Do you know what it means?” The boy thought for a moment and then said, “No fleas and ticks for three months!”
My friends, perceptions do not always equal reality! In our beautiful second reading today from Paul’s Second letter to the Corinthians, he reminds us of the profound truth that for Christians, ‘we walk by faith and not by sight.’ In other words, the experiences of our life’s journey have been transformed by the presence of the Risen Christ who calls us to see every aspect of our human experience providentially taken up into God’s plan for us. Our lives are not accidental but purposeful – taken up by God’s purpose for us. What may appear to be ultimate tragedies in our life can indeed be incredible triumphs of God’s grace at work in our lives. We walk this life by faith and not by sight.
This truth of our faith was dramatically brought home to me recently when I read former Vice-President Joe Biden’s recent book, Promise Me, Dad. It is a moving tribute to his son, Beau, who tragically died of brain cancer at the age of 46, leaving a devoted wife and two young children. As many of you are aware, early in his political career, Vice-President Biden tragically lost his wife and daughter in a terrible automobile accident. His two sons, Beau and Hunter survived the crash but were the unshakable focus of their father’s attention while they were convalescing in the hospital and later at home. Each day, the young senator would leave the Nation’s capital and travel by train to their home in Delaware to ensure that the boys would have their father by their side when they woke up and went to bed each day.
It is not uncommon for those who might experience such tragic loss in life to lapse into unremitting grief or be forever embittered by the cruelty of life. However, despite such tragedies, it was precisely the perspective of faith and the unfailing hope in the triumph of Christ over the inevitable tragedies of life that enabled the Vice-President and his family to see this moment, not as an end but rather the new beginning of eternity for their beloved son, husband, brother and father.
My friends, we “walk by faith and not by sight.” From God’s perspective, each moment of our life’s journey possesses a meaning that orients us toward the final end that God has destined for each one of us. That eternal end was beautifully and succinctly explained in the old Baltimore Catechism in response to the question, “Why did God make you?” “God made me to know, love and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in heaven.”
As we gather this Father's Day to drink deeply of God our Father's unfailing mercy at his Table of grace and blessing, let us be grateful for the gift of faith, a faith that gives our “seeing” its deepest meaning.