Fr Frank’s Homily – 4 September 2022

By Fr Frank Brennan SJ, 4 September 2022
A father embraces his child during Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


Homily for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C and Fathers’ Day

Readings: Wisdom 9:13-18; Psalm 89 (90):3-6, 12-14, 17; Philemon 9-10, 12-17; Luke 14:25-33

4 September 2022


Today is Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day to all those privileged to be fathers. May your children show their love and appreciation this day, and may you give thanks to God for the wonder of your children. And may fathers and children forgive whatever needs to be forgiven and gratefully receive the grace of that forgiveness.

I must confess that the unfortunate juxtaposition of Father’s Day with today’s gospel for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary time makes for difficult reading: “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”


Here we all are – professing to be disciples of Jesus and doing all we can not to hate our fellow man, let alone our parents, our children and our siblings. So what are we to make of this? You will recall that these lines follow upon Jesus’ account of the banquet urging us not to invite those who will reciprocate hospitality, but rather to have a preference “for the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind”.

Scripture scholar Luke Timothy Johnson tells us: “The parable of the banquet and the demands of discipleship together make the same point: the call of God issued by the prophet must relativize all other claims on life. The parable shows how entanglement with persons and things can in effect be a refusal of the invitation. The demands make clear that the choice for discipleship demands precisely the choice against a complete involvement in possessions or people. There is little that is gentle or reassuring in this.[1]

Some of us are blessed to have fathers who, in their own inevitably faltering way, have modelled the primacy of God’s call in their lives, the call of a disciple which shapes every aspect of their lives including their circle of dinner guests and their relationships with others, including their immediate family.

This Father’s Day is particularly poignant for me, as it is the first Father’s Day since Dad’s death, and the family will be placing his ashes with Mum’s at their parish church at the regular parish mass, it happening to be the third anniversary of her death. We will call to mind today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom:

“For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns. And scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?”

When leaving Australia for a sabbatical year in the United States seven years ago, I asked Dad what I should be thinking about while pondering the role of the priest in the public square. He responded:

“To create, by example, by precept and by proclamation, the social conditions that facilitate the dignified treatment of every person in order to allow each person to live in dignity. But more, by the same means, to explain in terms comprehensible to the contemporary individual, the significance of God’s love and the life God has intended for human kind and to demonstrate the vastly enhanced significance of dignity to the believing individual and the moral unacceptability of undignified treatment because it interferes with the divine plan for human kind.”

Now that his life is complete, I see that this response was an accurate autobiographical statement of his life as a disciple of Jesus.

Not everyone is privileged to have such a father. On Father’s Day, we pray especially for those fathers and families fractured by violent or broken relationships. This week, we heard from a judge in the Northern Territory who spoke out about domestic violence in remote Aboriginal communities. Justice Judith Kelly said: “Everyone is willing to talk about the over-representation of Aboriginal men in prison. It has been called Australia’s shame and so it is. But… the stream of Aboriginal men going to prison is matched by a steady stream – a river – of Aboriginal women going to the hospital and to the morgue. It is an epidemic of extreme domestic violence”. [2]

Let’s hope and pray that this Father’s Day will be a day for renewed gratitude and sustained hope for fathers and their children, whatever the devastation and disappointments of family life. If only every family could pray together:

R: In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Teach us to number our days aright,

that we may gain wisdom of heart.

Return, O LORD! How long?

Have pity on your servants!

R: In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,

that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.

And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;

prosper the work of our hands for us!

Prosper the work of our hands!

R: In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.


Happy Father’s Day.


Fr Frank Brennan SJ is the Rector of Newman College, Melbourne, and the former CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA). He has been appointed a peritus at the Fifth Plenary Council of the Australian Catholic Church.


[1] Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke, Sacra Pagina Series (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991), p. 233.

[2] See


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