A reflection for Sunday 16th June 2024 Trinity III Fathers' Day

When I was teaching three decades ago we always began the new school year by planting spring bulbs; that we would hope would grow in secret over the coming months and bring us great joy in the dark months of the new year. The bulbs of daffodils and hyacinths never failed to delight the children or the staff and they came to represent more than just pretty flowers blooming in the Winter.

For me they became a symbol for the ‘secret growth’ my young changes were undertaking during the academic year. As the bulbs came to maturity so too were my class maturing and coming to flower - by showing the new skills and abilities they had learned and developed. For many this might have been becoming fluent readers, or more self-confident in their skills in PE or Maths or whatever. Their growth was almost unnoticeable until you stopped to look for it and to think back to what the children were like at the beginning of the Autumn term.

Today’s first and third readings have much to say about secret growth as does the second but in a more human way than the botanical analogies used in the other readings. In the botanical analogies growth comes from seeds and cuttings, pruning and tending the soil. In the second reading growth is explained by the ways in which our faith can grow as our life experiences develop and our self-confidence blossoms. In all the readings the hope is expressed that we will all see new growth in ourselves and each other in ways that will deepen our faith and lead us to know God more fully.

Most of us, no doubt, will at sometime rejoiced in the growth seen in loved ones, pupils, friends and ourselves. That sort of growth is always worth celebrating. Our parents, probably rejoiced in us as we passed certain milestones or achieved various things, or explored new vistas. I think today’s readings fit with the secular theme of today - Father’s Day,

as many fathers are good at praising their offspring and celebrating the new growth they see. Growth that has been going on in secret until its bursts forth as new skills. Not all fathers, however, or all mothers are good at noticing new growth and celebrating it in their children. This is sad, for both parent and child lose out on something that could be life- affirming.

Earthly fathers do not always get it right but we can be assured that our heavenly Father does get it right with us because as St.Paul writes: “...we ourselves are well known to God ...”  2Corinthians 5:11b

God rejoices in every bit of our secret growth, development and acquisition of skills. He rejoices in the things we get and do right and despairs when we get things wrong - but hoping that we will get them right in the future.

Our heavenly Father is always loving, attentive and forgiving beyond measure but he is also a parent who gives us the space to grow and learn new things each day. He gently guides us

and never fails to support us, even when we are unaware of it and that’s something we should give thanks for.