12th Sunday of Ordinary Time
June 20, 2021
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
Today’s gospel tells the powerful story of Jesus calming the storm at sea.
It’s a fascinating story: you have this huge storm throwing the boat all around,
and Jesus is asleep in the back.
But the apostles, grown men, many of whom are experienced boatmen,
are in a panic, and so they wake Jesus up, saying:
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
(‘What are you doing sleeping?’)
And of course, He does wake up, and with just three little words, all is at well:
“Quiet, be still.”
On this Father’s Day (weekend),
this reminds me of when I was a little boy
and would run to my father’s bed to wake him up from a sound sleep
in the middle of the night
because I’d been frightened by lightning, or thunder,
or a monster under my bed,
or just a bad dream.
Because I knew my Dad was no ordinary man—he was my Father!
Fathers are a great gift from God.
As are mothers, of course–but since this is “Father’s Day,”
mom’s, ladies, let’s focus on dads.
Fathers protect us, and provide for us;
they discipline us and teach us;
they show us how to play games, and how to live life;
they teach us to be strong and to be compassionate;
they show us how to fight and how to love.
A good father teaches his children, especially his sons,
what a good and holy man is:
responsible, hardworking and creative,
and both strong and caring, just and merciful, brave and prudent.
Partnered with his good wife, their mother, they teach their children
how to love, serve and lead others,
how to be good citizens, good workers, good friends, and good neighbors,
and of course good brothers and sisters.
By the way he treats his wife, a good father teaches his sons
how to treat all women with respect and love,
and how to be a good and faithful husband and father;
And he teaches his daughters what to look for in a good husband.
What a blessing it is to have a good father.
But without good fathers, especially married to mothers,
things get very hard for the family, for children, and for society.
We need to pray for those who have lost their fathers, especially the young,
-mothers have a huge burden there.
Sadly, though, over the last 60 years
many have tried to diminish the importance of fatherhood,
and the result is nothing but more and more
domestic violence and heartache, and social upheaval and decline.
The statistics are overwhelmingly depressing in showing us this,
but I won’t repeat them all here.
Fathers give us so much.
But the two most fundamental things they do for their children
are to provide for them and to protect them.
I know my father worked hard to provide for us.
In fact, for 20 plus years he worked hard at job he hated
because it was the best way he knew how to provide for us.
First, of course, to provide for the basic necessities of our bodies:
a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food in our stomachs.
But as fundamentally important as those things were,
and as hard as he worked to provide them,
my Dad also knew that there were other basic necessities
he had to provide as well:
not just for the basic wellbeing of our bodies,
but also for the basic wellbeing of our minds and our souls.
And so he worked hard to provide us a solid education,
and strong formation in the Catholic faith.
To my father, that meant sending us to Catholic schools.
Of course, today Catholic schools are incredibly more expensive
than they were when I was kid.
But even with the higher tuition,
nowadays public schools still have a lot more money than Catholic schools
to spend on cutting edge resources and teachers’ salaries.
Plus, public schools are free! At least to parents, if not to taxpayers.
So I understand how many parents have opted, over the last few decades,
to send their kids to public schools instead of Catholic schools or homeschooling.
But the problem is that today’s public schools are doing more
than just teaching objective academic subjects.
They have become schools of indoctrination, teaching an ideology and values,
which are directly and radically opposed to the values of Catholic parents,
and of Christ and His Church.
The most recent public examples of this are efforts of Fairfax County Public Schools
to actively promote sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, transgenderism,
Marxism and the racist ideology of Critical Race theory.
Fathers—and mothers—I know it’s very hard to be a parent,
and I don’t want to attack you or second guess you.
But as your spiritual father, I do have a responsibility here.
And so I ask you to ask yourselves:
are you truly providing for your children’s education
if you send them to schools that embrace this hateful approach to education?
Where they undermine and undercut the values you teach them at home,
both your Catholic values of right and wrong and truth and falsehood,
and the simple values of common sense
(you know like a boy is a boy and a girl is a girl)?
I know all this presents great challenges to parents.
And I respect your choices.
But it seems to me that they’ve gone way over the line into active child abuse,
and things are only going to get worse.
This is just not the same public school system
some of you may have attended when you were young,
or that your older children went to just a few years ago.
And it’s not just the public schools.
Throughout our whole society—in the media, Hollywood, the internet, social media—
these ideologues are promoting this completely anti-Christ ideology,
trying to tear down the family, beginning with our children.
Fathers have a basic obligation to provide for the needs of their children.
But perhaps even more basic and fundamental is a father’s obligation
to protect their children.
But are you protecting them if you immerse your children—or your grandchildren—
in this ideology?
Do little ones really need to have their innocence challenged so constantly?
Isn’t there a point when a father has to say,
“you will not abuse and corrupt my child.”
Or as God says in today’s first reading:
“Thus far shall you come but no farther.”
Or as Jesus says: “Quiet! Be still.”
Now, you can do this in different ways.
Sometimes parents will take an active role in their schools, watching carefully what their kids are learning, and correcting the lies.
That works sometimes, but not every time.
What frightens me is that one day very soon
you may be denied the right to protect your family at all.
Just last week the President of the United States told the world,
after meeting with the leader of Russia, the former KGB agent,
“We don’t derive our rights from the government.
We possess them because we’re born period
and we yield them to a government.”
He was right when he began by saying,
“We don’t derive our rights from the government.”
But the rest he got all wrong, sounding more like a Marxist than Putin.
We possess our rights not when we’re born, but when we’re conceived.
From the first moment of life, we have rights.
He always gets this wrong, so he doesn’t recognize the right to life.
And we possess those rights not because we are born or conceived
but because they were given to us by God:
we are “endowed by our creator” with those rights.
—God gives each individual those rights, they don’t just come from nowhere.
And we do not “yield them to a government”!
NO! NO! NO!
We never yield any of our God-given rights to any government.
No, we believe that, as the Declaration of Independence says,
“to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
We don’t yield our rights to government.
We command the government officials that work for us
to “secure”—protect—OUR rights, that we hold fast to.
We don’t yield our rights; we WIELD our rights!
So fathers, be men, and stand up, with mothers, and wield your rights.
Take charge, and tell the government ideologues and apparatchiks,
who are your servants,
from the President to the government school principals,
“I yield my paternal rights to no one!”
In 1775 Patrick Henry famously proclaimed: “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Most people forget that Henry said those words in a Christian church,
St. John’s down in Richmond.
And most don’t know that he was the father of 17 children, who would later say:
“This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family.
The religion of Christ….which will make them rich indeed.”
So perhaps we understand the meaning of Henry’s famous saying better,
when we remember what Christ said before him:
“no greater love has a man than this,
to lay down his life for his friends.”
Henry was saying,
“Give me liberty, or I will lay down my life for my friends, for my family.”
Fathers, I don’t want any of you to die, but I know that all of you
would make any sacrifice necessary to protect or provide for
the true wellbeing your children, or grandchildren.
Because you love your them more than you love your own life.
And sacrificial love is at the heart of what it means to be a real father,
a real Christian father.
So, fathers, what will you do in the coming months and years
to provide for and protect your children?
Will you make the sacrifices necessary to assure
they are educated not only in math and science,
but also in truth and reason and faith?
Maybe those sacrifices will be monetary.
Maybe they’ll be time and effort you put in.
Maybe they’ll be by embarrassing yourself by getting politically active or protesting.
Maybe you don’t like to confront people, but maybe you have to—always in charity.
Whatever the sacrifice, are you ready to make that for your children?
Will you protect them from those who would abuse their minds
and assault their souls?
Will you protect their freedom to believe and live according to
what their conscience and faith demands,
no matter what the culture or government dictates?
I look at the world today and see a stormy sea ahead of us.
But I know that I am in the boat sometimes called the “Boat” or “Barque” “of Peter,” the Catholic Church.
And though sometimes Jesus seems to be asleep in the back of the boat,
Jesus is in this boat.
And all He has to do is: “rebuk[e] the wind, and sa[y]to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
And all will be well.
Fathers, do you have the faith, love and courage
to stand in that boat and face the storm with Jesus
and boldly provide for and protect your children?
So that in the dark night that is coming,
when the lightning strikes and thunder roars,
and monsters linger in the dark,
your children may run to you, confident that you will not sleep through it all,
but by the grace of Christ, stand and fight and win for them?
Do you have the faith, love and courage to do that?
I believe you do.
Because I believe that by the natural love you bear for your children,
transformed, elevated and magnified by the grace that flows from Christ
who laid down His life on the Cross for love of us, His children,
you need not be ordinary men,
but you can be the great and holy fathers
God created you to be and calls you to be.
Not ordinary men, not even ordinary fathers, but true fathers in Christ.