One day after Mass, a little boy came up to me, held his cell phone up and said, “Father, when I turn the voice recorder on, could you please say something to my dad?” I replied, “What would you like me to say?” The little boy responded, “I don’t know, but he doesn’t come to church anymore and I thought if you could say something to him he might want to start coming back.” Hearing what the little boy said, the famous passage in the Gospel of John came to mind, “Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16).” Looking at the little boy, I thought, “Yes, God so loved this boy’s father that he sent his little son whose deep love might help his dad know how much he is loved by God.”
I did not know why the little boy’s father did not come to church anymore. Maybe for some of the same reasons that distance us from God. He may have felt God had let him down. Perhaps he was angry at God because of some tragic event. A priest might have dealt harshly with him. The offensive behaviors of people who do go to church troubled him. He possibly thought some terrible sin he had committed was unforgiveable. Coming to church may have been a sign of weakness, something that “real men” don’t do. Life changes that he would have to make if he took God more seriously might have intimidated him.
I knew there was nothing I could say to make the father come back to church or to believe in God’s love for him. However, I did figure I could remind the boy’s father of something. So I asked the little boy to turn the recorder on and I said, “Hello, sir, this is Fr. Christopher, your parish priest, and I just wanted you to know that you have a son who loves you very, very much.”
The success of that little boy’s attempts to bring his dad back to church is unknown. What I do know is that the little boy’s loving efforts move me to say, “Brothers and sisters of Christ Cathedral Parish and of parishes everywhere, I just want you to know that God has a Son who loves us very, very much.”
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector