"Be a Dad!" | Fr. Larry Richards | Adapted and excerpted from Be a Man! Becoming the Man God Created You to Be | Ignatius Insight
You are going to die!
It doesn't matter how rich we are, or how popular we are, or how powerful we are: we are all going to "kick the bucket" one day. Isn't that a nice thought?
What we have to do is take some time to sit and meditate about taking our last breath. What do you want your wife to say about you? What do you want your kids to say about you? Once you've decided, "Okay, when I am taking my last breath this is what I want", you can start living your life with your end goal in mind. You will start living in such a way that when the day of your death happens, the people who know you will say what you want them to say.
Death is the ultimate thing that takes control out of our hands. Even if we commit suicide, we cannot control what happens after we die. Not one of us had control over our own birth and not one of us has control of what happens after we die.
I have been to a lot of deathbeds throughout my priesthood, so I know what it is going to be like when you are dying. While you are lying there, the thing that is going to be most important to you is your relationshipsthe people that you loved and the people that in return loved you.
Then why don't we live every day with that in mind? Make the decision to never let your wife or your kids go to bed or walk out the door without telling them first that you love themlife is just too short! It will change your family. It will change the world.
You should underline John 15:12 in your Bible, where Jesus commands us, "Love one another as I have loved you." This is not an option. He also said, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you" (Jn 15:9). Jesus told the people He loved that He loved them.
Why is it that men do not do that? Men are embarrassed. They are afraid. It makes them vulnerable. They think to be a man, you don't go around telling the people you love that you love them; but Jesus told twelve men that He loved them. Then He told us to love others in the same way.
Let me give you a hint: you will never in your life regret that you told your wife and your kids and the people you love that you love themnever. You won't be lying on your deathbed one day saying, "I can't believe that I daily told my loved ones that I loved them. What is the matter with me?"
Now, how do you fall in love with someone? You know that you did not get to know your future wife by meeting her once and giving her forty five minutes to an hour once a week. You spent time with her. You got to know her. The same is true with our relationship with God. It might take you monthsit might take you yearsbut you have to do it. You have to keep spending time with God until the answer to the question of whether or not you know God is unequivocally yes.
We need to know who our true Father is. There's only one Father for everybody: God the Father! That guy you call your dad, he's the instrument of fatherhood, but he's not your true Father.
When we talk about our fatherswhether we had a good father, a bad father, a close and supportive father, or a distant and unsupportive father whom we did not know at allit doesn't matter as much because the reality is, we all have the same Father in heaven. It's that Father Who will bring healing to us.
Husbands are called to love God primarily through their wives. Your wife is the sacrament of Christ to you. You are the sacrament of Christ to your wife. When she looks at you, she is supposed to see Jesus Christ. That is why Ephesians 5:2224 is such a wonderful passage. It says, "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands." Many of us remember the translation that said that wives were to be "submissive to their husbands". The problem is that many men just stop with their wives being "submissive". The men love that part, which is why so many women go crazy.