This Sunday: Why There Is No ‘God-the-Father’s Day’

The Holy Spirit gets his celebration on Pentecost. The Son gets Christmas and Easter and more. But the Father doesn’t get his own day.

Since this Sunday is Trinity Sunday (Year A) — in the same month as Father’s Day — perhaps we can give him some attention and see why that is.

We can learn from God the Father what fatherhood should be like for human beings, too: A true Father never sees himself as the end or goal of family life, but always the good of the family.

What kind of Father is God? In this Sunday’s reading from Exodus, when the Lord passes before Moses and Moses drops to the ground. Moses isn’t intimidated by God because God is aggressive or angry; he is overawed by him because he is pure love.

God tells Moses he is “The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”

That concept is elevated to great heights in Sunday’s Gospel, which includes the famous verse of God’s Fatherly love, John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

Notice how the Father loved us, and notice how the Father loved his Son. He saw that we were in trouble, so he acted to save us. He saw that his Son’s sacrifice would mean more love, so he sacrificed his Son. Neither of these things is easy or painless; pure love never is.

But God is a real Father, not “Fatherhood” in some abstract way. From all eternity God the Father has generated God the son from his bosom, says the Catechism. The Holy Spirit is the bond of their love.

That means God is never alone. In the first reading, the whole Trinity is present with the Father: The pillar of cloud symbolizes the Holy Spirit and the stone tablets represent the Word of God, a symbol of Christ, the Word, who writes his law on our hearts.

In the second reading, we hear the oldest Trinitarian greeting of the Church. St. Paul asks that God be “with all of you,” but he doesn’t just say “God.” He says: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” (that is, the generous outpouring of gifts from God the Son), “the love of God” (that is, the gracious kindness of the Father), “and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (that is, the constant companionship of God the Holy Spirit) “be with all of you.”

That “be with you” means that he wants God the Father to draw each of us into the love relationship he has for all eternity with the Trinity in heaven.

God’s Fatherhood is so pure and intense that God the Father Sunday doesn’t exist but Trinity Sunday does. A loving Father never points to himself, but always to the best of what is around him.

In the first place, that means he points to the Son and to the Spirit. But since  we are called to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity, it means he also points to us.

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.