Even though it's almost a week since we celebrated Father's Day across the Commonwealth, I don't think it is too late to give it a bit of thought.
Like Mother's Day, it had its origins in the United States. It began in Washington in 1910 and started being held in Australia in 1958.
It was not until 1964 that it was officially set down for the first Sunday of September.
With the current lockdown and the repercussions of COVID-19 most families would have been unable to celebrate in their usual way, but hopefully, would have tried to find alternative opportunities without violating the rules that have been laid down to protect us from the virus and prevent it spreading further. Nevertheless we can still think about and ponder the roles of fathers and the values and gifts and talents they have to offer in our changing world.
On Father's Day we are celebrating not just biological fathers, but grandfathers, great grandfathers, step fathers, foster fathers, and those men who fill the role of father through their kindness and understanding. Parenting is a lifetime calling and has no books of rules or occupational criteria governing it. Ways and means will best be worked out between husbands and wives on the firm foundations of love, patience, understanding, goodness and kindness, trustfulness and self- control.
Children learn from their parents and absorb these gifts of rich humanity. If these are missing for some reason, then that too will be reflected in their lives. A great role model in the Bible would have to be Joseph, Mary's husband and foster father of Jesus.
The text does not give much detail about Joseph, except that he worked as a carpenter to support his family, was there with Mary in Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus, fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus to escape Herod's massacre of the infants, and accompanied Mary when the Child Jesus went missing after the visit to the Temple.
In a further text of the New Testament we have Jesus in his public life inviting all of us to call God our Father.
In response to a request from his disciples - "Lord, teach us to pray"- Jesus simply responds 'Pray like this" and offers them the prayer that has survived to the present day - the Our Father, sometime referred to as the Lord's Prayer, or the Latin Pater Noster.
Much has changed over the years in the ways families can live their lives.
Mothers are often studying, or working both to fulfil their careers or to boost the family economy, while fathers who have always been considered as the breadwinners have discovered another role in keeping the home fires burning and sharing the housekeeping and childcare tasks.
So, as we look back on the recent Father's Day for 2021 we can offer our loving gratitude and respect to all those men who have done their best to fill the roles of fatherhood in their lives, and we can offer a sympathetic ear to those families where this has not been possible for whatever reasons.