A Father’s Love

illustration of father with toddler son - cosmaa/iStock/Getty Images

The priest concludes his Sunday homily before the interior doors of the church fling open. Just released from Sunday school, the young children crowd the doorway, preparing to rejoin their parents in the pews. They stand expectantly, bouncing on tippy toes, eyes darting around the church to spot their families. Off they go; the smallest child is led by the hand. He’s a three-year old blond boy bound for the pew ahead of me. His face lights up with an angelic smile as he spots his family. He drops the adult’s hand to run and skip toward them. His dad sits up to welcome him back. The boy presents himself for enfolding into a hug. The sweet reunion of the wee child coming home to his father is moving and familiar.

So sweet is the moment, so warm the connection, that it may as well have been a reunion after a long separation, rather than a short Sunday school lesson. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1)

Such is the Father’s love for each of his children. God’s love is both personal and universal. His open arms await us to come toward him. His face lights up when we walk into his outstretched arms. Here we are known, heard, and understood. We know who we are and whose we are. We are always welcome here.

The sweet reunion in church is short-lived. The three-year-old squirms out of his father’s arms, finding curious distractions and something under the pew to see. Dad whispers softly to him to settle down and take a seat. Now, as three-year-olds do, the child is protesting what his father asks of him. He wants to be good, but he wiggles and climbs. His dad looks on lovingly. He knows and cherishes his active lad; he expects no more or less from him in church.

As grown Christians we also stray from the word of God. We know what to do but still fall back on our bad habits and distractions that are not of God. We forget that nothing is hidden from the eyes of God, neither our proudest moments nor our darkest hours, neither our loving gestures nor our sharpest rebukes. God sees us, knows us, and loves us as we are. Nothing can separate us from everlasting love.

How is God calling you to claim the fruits of faith and his unconditional love with the fervor of a little child? A child is curious, energetic, and persistent. What are the ways to move toward God in daily life with an open heart and childlike wonder for the nourishment offered through a renewed investment in faith?

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Gerri Leder
Gerri Leder is a participant in the Ignatian Business Chapter (IBC), a group founded as the Woodstock Business Chapter. She prayed the life-changing 19th annotation in 2017 and the 12 Weeks in Manresa retreat through the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies at Boston College, bringing the retreat to her parish in 2023. Earlier, she founded and led a marketing consultancy in financial services before shifting her focus to transition coaching and leading groups. She has been a certified coach through the International Coaching Federation and a group spiritual director trained through Shalem Institute. A graduate of the University of Richmond, Gerri earned an MBA in marketing from Loyola University in Maryland. Gerri enjoys all manner of outdoor activities, including cycling, hiking, crabbing, and kayaking.



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