Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Proper 6 Year 1
“Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord” (1Samuel 2:12)
This reading comes up on Father’s Day week. Eli, and all dads have a responsibility to teach children the right way to live and to honor God. All we can do is try to teach. We can’t make them learn. However we must realize that teaching is done all of our waking hours. There are some things we do intentionally to teach. But young ones are watching us all the time. So unintentional behaviors like bad language, abuse of spouse or others, laziness, substance abuse and other bad behaviors are also learned. They watch us and they learn from us, the good and bad.
As we dads participate in the teaching process, we are not the only ones. Children have the other parent, other adults, peers, relatives, teachers, neighbors, ministers and so forth. The minds of young children are soaking up everything. As dads we have a specific responsibility to watch the other influences that sometimes contradict the good moral lessons we try to instill.
Perhaps Eli did not pay close enough attention to the influences around his sons. In any case God was not pleased with him and Eli was forced to witness God moving the prophetic leadership to one other than one of his sons, to Samuel. We will find out later that even Samuel’s sons didn’t learn well and this brings about the first king of the Israel, Saul.
So how can fatherhood best be lived out? As a father I have learned that establishing and trying to maintain my so-called authority is the wrong approach. Raising children is not really about me. It is about harmony and cooperation. It is about being willing to distance one’s self, if necessary, in order to ensure harmony and cooperation. I found that being a big brother- life-coach would be the more accurate description of fatherhood.
Eli’s sons being scoundrels was not pleasing to God. It seems God held Eli at least in some way accountable for their base and irreligious character. (1Samuel 2: 11-17) God told Eli, “The fate of your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you—both of them shall die on the same day.” (1Samuel 2: 34) So I ponder, if Eli knew what would eventually happen would he have done anything different in their upbringing.
Being the big brother life coach promoting harmony and cooperation must include real corrective measures for wayward deeds. True affection must first be established so that the father child relationship is very important to the child. When this happens the child does not want to disappoint the father (or mother). I like the emperor penguin as the symbol for fatherhood. This flightless, father bird takes sole responsibility for receiving the egg and raising the chick until mother returns. You see, each of us is a whole parent. Our child raising responsibilities are co-dependent not independent. Done any other way, and we raise scoundrels.
Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people. John+