Sunday Mass of The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Some first-graders were asked to draw a picture of God in their Sunday school class. Their finished products contained some interesting theology. One child depicted God in the form of a brightly colored rainbow. Another presented him as an old man coming out of the clouds. An intense little boy drew God with a remarkable resemblance to Superman. The best entry, however, came from a little girl. She said, “I didn’t know what God looked like, so I just drew a picture of my daddy.” My father had fourteen children, of whom I am the eldest.
I am pretty sure that none of Al Bierschenk’s children ever confused him with God. But, as I look back, there were so many ways in which he taught us about loving God and reflected the love that God has for us. He taught us about the importance of living our faith in simple, practical ways. We would gather every night before the “little kids” went off to bed to recite a decade of the rosary. We said prayers before eating and added in an extra Our Father and Hail Mary, sometimes asking for rain or just so the little ones could learn their prayers.
We volunteered to help at church, sat in the front row at Sunday Mass so that we would not be distracted by others. Every Sunday we picked up a lady who lived down the road from us to take her to Mass, even though she usually made my father irritated at some point as she told him how to drive. My father taught us to be content with what we were given by God. He worked hard during the week as a carpenter,
and in the evenings and on Saturday he (with the help of an army of children) planted gardens and raised animals to provide our food. We had a roof over our head and good food on the table. We were poor, but we never really thought of ourselves that way. We were blessed as we found time to play games, and sing songs, and just enjoy being with each other. Perhaps the most important lesson we learned from our father was the importance of love.
We never had any doubt that my father loved our mother and put her first in his life. He was delighted with every homerun, every academic award, with every graduation. When a mistake was made, his answer was to try again and do our best next time. Until his last days, my father’s greatest joys were in the moments when he could hold the newest grandbaby, or sit in the midst of the noise and confusion of a family gathering, because he always told us to remember that loving your family was the most important thing in life.
Today as we honor our fathers, our sincere prayer is that they will be surrounded by those who love and cherish them, and that God will continue to strengthen and guide them and bless them for all their sacrifices. “I don’t know what God looks like, so I drew a picture of my daddy.”
Father Stephen Bierschenk