A Heartwarming Story For Father's Day

Just got home from San Pedro Cathedral where I attended an anticipated mass for Holy Trinity Sunday.

Such a fulfilling evening for me...while cooking for dinner I couldn't help but think the heartwarming homily of the priest about God's unbending love and the significance of the Holy Trinity in the Catholic faith, but what struck me most was his sharing about God's self-concept of being a "father". This is very timely because tomorrow the world will celebrate Father's day. 

The priest then shared a touching story about the movie "THE MOST" where a man, who worked as a bridge keeper, sacrificed his own son to save many people. The scene where a man had to endure an agonizing decision to sacrifice his son's life in order to save lots of people was heart-wrenching.

“The Most” story is so hard to fathom and would take some divine intervention to understand the reason why a father had sacrificed his own son’s life to save others. It might be too unthinkable for our human brain but remember it magnifies the unconditional, paternal love of God to His people which prominently described in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son". 

Okay, so let’s leave it there and it’s up to you to ponder on the gravity of taking self-sacrifices.

Since tomorrow is a special day honouring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, I will share something about my own father, how his strict principles influenced my life's decisions and how his warmth, protection and love  made me who I am today.

For the first four years of my life, we lived in a farm where my father co-managed a poultry business. He also ventured into Copra, Abaca, Corn and fruits trading, but when insurgencies erupted we moved to my grandparents' place and left the farm to some tenants, seven years later, my father sold this farm and we permanently lived in the town proper. 

I was extra close to him when I was still a kid. At summer, I would tag along with him when he reported to work at the municipal hall, I loved it because at lunch he would treat me to a lone restaurant in the place that served delectable dishes and allowed me to order anything I like! 

It was only my father who could tolerate my tantrums without losing temper, he would easily yield when I wrangled to buy something maybe because he did not want his eardrums be pierced with my toe-curling wail. But like a good disciplinarian father, he never tolerated some of my impossible lapses, he would shout at the top of his lungs and shut me with glazing eyes if I did something terrible, he would often gave me a corresponding corporal punishment if necessary.

My father never let a single day passed without checking us when he would hear some unsettling issues, his favorite hour of the day (to talk to us) was at the early dawn, even if we won't wake up, he would sit beside our bed and would bombard us with advises and detailed explanation on how life should be handled to avoid mess later. Looking back, I learned so many lessons from my father's precious words and "counselling moment" before sunrise. His gentle words, which are unlikely because he was known with his signature "booming voice" in the neighborhood, deeply penetrated into my brain and miraculously worked for the next decades of my life.

He is far from modern but he understood how to live life in the present world. He would often warn me to be cautious with the people I meet and "never come home late at night". He often said, we are somewhat unlucky to be born in an era where life is often treated unholy by some and where wars are frequently heard everywhere. He hated variety shows with girls dancing in bikinis, he found it too lurid to be watched by children, so we did not have television until my last year in college.

But after college, gradually, I was disillusioned with my father's stiff principles in life and we occasionally had a row because of his "wrong" interpretations on some world events. He detested America and badly criticized whoever sat as US President. So to prevent from bickering, I would not join him in the living room watching news because we always ended up debating. Several years on and moving to a complicated era of modernity, I could not help but think if my father was right with his interpretations.

Despite his radical principles in life, my father has this endearing character which makes me think if he owns a charity institution in his past life. If he saw a vendor in the street with torn pants, he would give his own, if he saw a homeless person knocking in another door, he would fetch him and let him stay in our house (this happens several times), he regularly offered foods, water and a small amount of money to people who badly needed it. He often said that part of our mission in life as a true Christian is to serve our "neighbors" as what the Holy Bible commanded. For one, I extremely admired his act of kindness and generosity.

He had been serving the Catholic church as a lay minister long before I was born, so when he had me he would bring me along to his church engagements. My  first memory was accompanying him to the church while he conducted a celebration of the Holy Word (Holy Mass can only be celebrated by priests and deacons). 

Church is his life, even when he was still working in the government office as a Local Revenue Collection Officer (a job he took in the local government office after leaving the Meat and Livestock Inspector item), he always prioritized his obligations in the church, conducting the Holy Word service when our parish priest is not around. In fact, he was not able to attend my college graduation because he had to be in the parish for the scheduled Parish Pastoral Council general assembly where he sat as President (at that time).

He is a great crusader of justice and peace in our province, a community organizer of cause-oriented activities, an activist and ecologist. One way or another, I secretly admired my father's superhero-like dedication to the Catholic church and community service.

His deep commitment to the Catholic life service and the community was halted in 2009 when he suffered from cataract. By May 2009, my father became completely blind and his movement was limited to sitting and sleeping. It was a big struggle on his part because he adored reading books and watching news. But the most frustrating part of this condition was the fact that he could no longer offer his service to the community and the church.

At 71 and with the history of hypertension and heart ailment, my father naturally could not be qualified anymore for an eye operation, his blood pressure was unstable and sometimes went up to an alarming level, but in the last part of 2010, due to his willingness to see again and resume his lay ministerial job, he was able to conquer the obstacle and his blood pressure miraculously stabilized and finally on the 9th of November, 2010, his cataract was successfully removed. 

My father gave up his smoking habit in 1988 and when he was diagnosed of hypertension in 1990, he totally stopped drinking alcoholic beverages and eating pork. Since 1990s, he has a lifestyle only monks can endure. My father is not perfect, he has his own shares of lapses too, but he’s trying hard to be the best father that he could be.

More than a father, my Papa served as a good model in my life when it comes to generosity and kindness. His influence and discipline, to be morally upright all the time, made me able to conquer life's demons and temptations.

For this happy occasion honouring all the fathers in the world, my only wish for my father is to be healthy all the time and have a long life ahead to see me build a family of my own.

The Bridge (The Most) video which highlighted the homily of the priest for Holy Trinity Sunday, it carries a heartwarming message how much God loved the world. This is a  wonderful movie trailer for Father's Day celebration. Happy father's day to all fathers in the world and to my own father, Mr. Leonardo Lamela.

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