by Ken Rolheiser
I am your father and I am always proud of you

In a recent re-run of Castle James Brolin made a guest appearance as Castle’s father. He saves Alexis from kidnappers, but in a tender moment he reveals himself to Castle. In a scene reminiscent of Luke Skywalker’s meeting with Darth Vader, Brolin says, “I am your father.”

Brolin continues explaining how he followed Castle’s career and family, and in a very moving way he says, “I’ve always been proud of you.”  In that moment I realized that my own father is proud of me. I sensed his presence, though he left us 45 years ago. I almost felt his touch. And I realized that is how God loves us. And he is always proud of us.

Picture Jesus and the disciples walking past a vineyard. Perhaps, as some of you have seen a vineyard all dried up and waiting for the new season’s rains, Jesus sees the opportunity to reveal God’s closeness to us.

We should be able to sense the Father’s touch in a physical way. “I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower… I am the vine and you are the branches” (John 15). Our union with Jesus is that intimate. And God’s life comes to us through Jesus.

In a reflection on listening to Jesus Fr. Brendan McGuire says: “I will give you a metaphor that kind of helps break this open. When I was a kid I was the youngest of 12 children. Our Dad used to come in from a day's work… he would sit down and all of us… would look to climb up on Dad… jumping and playing on him.

“Sometimes, he would be tired and he wouldn't want us jumping up and down. So I figured this out that if I saw him tired, I would climb up and I would not move… And as I just lay there, he would hold onto me because then none of the other brothers would get up on him… he would just grab me and protect himself against all the other children.

“What I often noticed about this was… lying on his chest, I would be so quiet I could hear him breath, and there were times that I would listen to that almost heart beat, and I would listen and hear, and when he spoke it was very different.

“When you are that close, you hear things that you do not normally hear. You hear nuances that you do not often hear. In fact, there were times when he would whisper and no one else could hear it but me because I was the only one that close listening right on his chest.

“I believe that is a perfect image of what God wants from us. He wants us to be so close to his heart, to lie on his heart… and rest and listen carefully to his voice. Sometimes, he just whispers. And that whisper is just for us. Most often the whisper says something very simple, ‘I love you; rest in me.’ But because we are so busy jumping and playing in life, we miss that very powerful voice that assures us that God loves us.”

Like little Brendan McGuire, we should have this relationship figured out by now. Maybe God wants to hold us close and give us a rest from the busyness around us.

(569 words)