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With a father’s heart

Last February, I brought my youngest daughter to a hospital. Numerous benign cysts were found on her left ovary. However, an enlarged cyst five times the normal size was also found on her right ovary, and it needed to be removed. Fearless in the face of the pandemic, my daughter checked into the hospital for the operation.

Twenty years ago, my eldest daughter had the same ovarian disease; a big cyst was also found on her left ovary and needed to be operated on. The result of the biopsy revealed that she had stage-2 cancer. Call it Divine Providence, but with prayers and a second opinion from another doctor, she survived that illness. She now works as a senior nurse in Singapore with a healthy two-year-old son.

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My other child, a boy, is healthier than his two siblings. Although he’s all grown up, I always remind him to eat the right food, exercise, sleep well, and take things easy.

Loving our children is an important thing the Lord commands us to do. These days, in the season of Lent, we have to reflect on what this means.

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We honor Saint Joseph, the foster father of our Savior, annually every March 19, his feast day. Pope Francis announced in his “Patris Corde” (Apostolic Letter) that we will celebrate this year Saint Joseph’s 150th anniversary proclamation as Patron of the Universal Church. “With a Father’s Heart; that is how Joseph loved Jesus,” said the Pontiff in his letter. “He is a tender and loving father; he taught Jesus how to walk, taking Him by the hand; he was for Him like a father who raises an infant to his cheeks, bending down to Him, and feeding Him.”

Jesus—God becoming man, through the Blessed Virgin Mary—was part of a human family, with Joseph serving as His earthly father.

Our faith tells us the good values of St. Joseph: obedient, patient, and courageous. He accepted Mary as his wife although he was in doubt of her pregnancy. They went to Bethlehem to register for the census of Emperor Caesar Augustus and fled to Egypt to save the Infant Jesus from Herod’s wrath. In these situations, he suffered pains and difficulties in his efforts to follow God’s will.

A working father, he earned his keep for his family as a carpenter with honesty and hard work. From him, Jesus learned the dignity and joy of what it means to eat the fruits of one’s own labors.

St. Joseph is also a protector. Jan Dobraczynski, a Polish writer, described him in his book “The Shadow of the Father” as the “earthly shadow of the heavenly Father; watching over Jesus, protecting Him, never leaving Him to go on His own way.”

I always love and take care of my children just like my “old man” did when he was alive. He was also a poor, hardworking, and loving father. I know it’s a far cry from what my father gave his children, or what Joseph gave the Savior. But like all fathers who love their offspring, we give them our best and follow God’s command.

This Lent, amid a pandemic, we face problems like hunger, sickness, and even death. Like Joseph, we accept our trials with obedience, courage, and trust. With the Father giving us His only Son for our sins, we welcome Jesus with faith and humility for His love and mercy toward us.

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Mario D. Dalangin, 65, writes for World Mission and Liwayway Magazine. He is a member of various church organizations in Las Piñas, and grandfather to Rifqi Gabriel.

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