|Bishop Robert Barron (Photo Credit: Word On Fire)|
Catholic365/ 9/2/2015 11:00:10 AM
How many times are we told "Don't call your priest a Father, it is a sin"? The people that question Catholics mostly for this reason of why we refer to our Priests as Fathers, [they] tend to quote from St. Matthew 23:6-11, which says:
“Like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted respectfully in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi. ‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one Master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant.”
First it is important to analyze this topic for we are all called to preach the truth to this world. When people tell Catholics to not refer to our priests as fathers, they tend to only quote from St. Matthew 23:9 that says, “Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.” Jesus is not warning us to refrain from using the words Father, Rabbi nor teacher. Jesus is actually forbidding us from the spirit of superiority:
“Whoever exalts…will be exalted” (St. Luke 14:11).
“Anyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.” (St. Matthew 23:12).
So why then we refer to our Priests as Fathers?
This is because St. Paul wrote, in 1 Corinthians 4:15 “Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the Gospel.” He isn’t saying that we should make our priest feel superior (nor that he was superior to the people of the Church of Corinth). He is saying that Priest give us the spiritual food (The Eucharistic: Matthew 26:26-18). They become our fathers or parents in showing us the Word of God. They nurse us in our times of illness (darkness), and they prepare us, so we can go to the world and fly.
St. James talks to us about how not many of us should become teachers because those who become teachers will be judged more strictly. Those who abuse the power are related (by St. James) in the good and bad use of the tongue. A Father is a person that must use good language as a fig tree it is called to produce olives, just as a river is called to give men fresh water. A Father is a guide of men. They are called to become fishermen and farmers. They must plant a seed in each of us, and cultivate it, so one day we can become a forest full of life.
*(In reference to St. James 3:1-12)
**Note: While reading St. James 3:1-12, we can see he says "not many should become teachers" if Jesus had meant to take St. Matthew 23:6-11 as many Protestants tend to understand it, then St. James would be wrong by calling himself a teacher. (In the KJV Bible the one used mostly among all Protestant, the word teacher is substitute by the word Master). However I doubt St. James misunderstood Christ’s message.