Responsible fathers are compassionate and good examples for their children Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Jun. 05, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

After Bubba Watson won the 2014 Masters, his two-year-old adopted son, Caleb, waddled onto the green to be embraced by his father.

He reminded me of John F. Kennedy Jr., saluting his father's casket. Bubba Watson’s wife followed Caleb, and the entire family basked in the moment of glory.

Bubba Watson’s dad nicknamed him "Bubba" after former NFL player Bubba Smith, who was a good role model.

He said that his son Caleb is teaching him how precious life is. "He puts life in perspective," he said. "Golf is a game. When I play bad, he doesn't care. When I play great, he doesn't care. All he cares about is, 'Daddy give me a hug. Daddy pick me up.'"

Besides his family, another influence on Watson's game is his faith. "Looking at my son, I want to be as Christ-like as possible," Watson said. "I'll never be perfect. I'm always going to mess up, but my whole goal is to be the role model for my son."

He isn't a role model just for his son, but to others. He thinks the President of the United States, others in authority, and all adults should be role models for the young.

Father's Day origination

Father's Day originated because of the good example of Sonora Smart Dodd's father.

William Jackson Smart, Sonora's dad, heroically raised six children by himself after his wife died. In appreciation of her father's sacrificial love, Sonora Dodd organized the first Father's Day in Spokane, Wash., on June 19, 1910.

Fathers have a grave responsibility to give a good example to their children.

During the Great Depression, Jim Braddock was a washed up penniless boxer, recovering from an injured hand. When a heavyweight contender's opponent was injured, with little or no training, Jim Braddock agreed to be the heavyweight contender's opponent.

He had no chance of winning and would probably last a round or so as a punching bag, but he desperately needed money to help feed his family.

Before the fight at supper his daughter cried from hunger pains. Moved with fatherly compassion, he gave his meager supper to his daughter and went into the fight hungry.

What an inspiring act of sacrificial fatherly love! Miraculously he won and eventually he became heavyweight champion.

Leave a mark of love

Caring fathers leave eternal marks of love on their children. The faith crisis of many young people today is often related to early life experiences when a good and loving father was missing.

The gentleness of my dad and Father Goetzman, my boyhood pastor, helped me to see God as a loving father and friend.

My two brothers, three sisters, and I all loved Dad. He nurtured us, protected us, and shared Christian values.

The way fathers relate to their daughter or daughters often influences how they relate to other men. A good father is also important to boys as a male role model.

Dad spent quality time with my brothers and me. He took us to baseball games. We hunted and fished together. He taught us to see nature as a window to God.

When Dad let me shoot his shotgun for the first time, it seemed like a rite of passage. He rescued me when my car broke down. He listened more than he talked, observed my mistakes, and gently corrected me. He even taught me to box to defend myself. He endured the teenage years of my siblings and myself. We gave him grey hair.

When I was in seventh grade, my parents bought a $1,000 dollar house. They planned to move it from the country into town. After the first day, the movers left the house on a hill. To protect the house from strong winds, Dad and I stayed in it that night. If strong winds occurred, I didn’t know what we'd do. But Dad knew and I felt brave and close to him.

Protector at all costs

Dad hurt his back laying 12-inch cement blocks when I was in sixth grade.

He seemed as helpless as Superman weakened by kryptonite, but he kept working in pain to support our family. I temporarily took his job shoveling coal in the church furnace. We rejoiced when a chiropractor cured his sciatica.

When I was in the Navy, I considered joining a Franciscan religious order which helped the poor. My dad sent me a prayer book. I gave it to the religious order and told Dad. He didn't like that. I think he thought that I should use it myself. He was right.

Arguably the best gifts that a mother can give to her children is to love their father. Mom occasionally criticized Dad, but when he came home from work, she treated him like a king.

This communicated to us children that he was special. We agreed. Mom and Dad were partners in raising us children. They complemented each other. St. Joseph, Jesus' foster father, is the patron saint of fathers. He showed his love for Jesus by loving his mother. We can do the same.

Teaching children about Jesus

Last Fall, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby baptized Prince George. He told his parents that they have the task of teaching their son about Jesus. They should tell him about Jesus, read him stories about Jesus, and introduce him to prayer.

He said that unless three-month-old Prince George is united to Christ, he can do nothing. He told them that they must help George grow into the person God created and called him to be.

Pope John XXIII said, "it's easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father." A father heard his son pray, "dear God, make me the kind of man Daddy is." Later that night the father prayed, "dear God, make me the kind of dad my son wants me to be." Surely all dads can pray this prayer.

Le's pray that fathers are faithful to their challenging role.

The best way that we can thank our parents is to be the best son or daughter that we can be. If our father has died, we can pray for him. If he's in Heaven, we can ask him to pray for us. Wherever he is, let's wish him a happy Father's Day!

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.