Found: A Focus on Fathers

Return of the Prodigal Son, 1619 - Guercino

“’For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:24

Jacqueline Marie | June 16, 2024

The subject of Fatherhood – spiritual or biological – often dredges up a convoluted catch of emotions, netted from the depths of our memories. Joy, pain, love, fear, anger or even shame. Those in the role of “father” cut deeply into our hearts, forming who we believe ourselves to be as their children.

Some of the greatest power of fatherhood lays in its ability to create identity. Like a last name, fatherhood can wrap each individual member of the family in a moniker, identifying those who belong.

But ultimately, earthly fatherhood is only a reflection. It is in the Creator that parenthood is defined and in its perfect form. It is from him that our true identity is found.

"God is the father who watches and waits for his children, runs out to meet them, embraces them, pleads with them, begs and urges them to come home."

In his boundless love God shows that a father’s heart is deeply missional. It is the heart of generosity that opens itself up even to the point of being wounded. 

Father Henri Nouwen speaks to this in his book The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, when he says, “God is the father who watches and waits for his children, runs out to meet them, embraces them, pleads with them, begs and urges them to come home.”

His is a self-sacrificing love that leaves the doors open and the fatted calf ready.

“God is looking for you. He will go anywhere to find you. He loves you, he wants you home, he cannot rest unless he has you with him” (Nouwen).

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Honoré Daumier, 1808-1879, The Prodigal Son

Is this not the posture we need to be in for parish renewal? A missional posture that is the result of having realized that we too are the lost children brought home?

We have been searched for and found. Embraced, forgiven and celebrated as a member of the family. We have been redeemed – from nameless to chosen (Is. 43:1), from orphans to heirs (Eph. 1:5). 

When we have received such a welcome from our Heavenly Father, how can we help but turn and offer the same to those still out in the dark? When we know the depth of our own belonging, we can offer extreme hospitality to those around us – realizing they are not strangers but siblings.

This Father’s Day as we celebrate the fathers of every form in our lives, let us also celebrate our belonging as children of our Father in Heaven. Children that mirror his heart to bring in the lost: so that every person can be welcomed into the family of God.