Father and Son
The paternal father exemplifies his love for his Son by that Son’s devotion to his family after the father’s death.
We say like father like son and we are right to say that. The son will always carry the flag of the father. Hereditary titles have become relatively meaningless and only titular. They are something of the past. There are plenty of examples of fathers and sons in business together.
2. The wishes of the father for the son:
These are crucial and a wise father will permit his son freedom of manoeuvre. However the prudent father will always know his son’s life and take a keen interest in it. The dutiful son for his part will never go against his father and will always listen to the father’s clarion call in his life. There is a vast room for the father and son to act out their relations in this world of ours. The world is a stage and all the men are players. Not every son is going to attain the father’s highest hopes yet his contribution is still of great value. The father should instil ambition in the son from the outset.
3. Primogeniture and the eldest son.
Traditionally in the 19th Century and first half of the 20th Century this rule held sway but no more. Even the Royalty concede the female line is allowed. Let us not forget Elizabeth I and our own illustrious Queen. The eldest son was the prize and they did not all come up to the mark. Still they inherited - feckless or wise. Ways were found to sidetrack that eldest son’s fragile place and jump a generation. Brideshead Revisited is a very good example of such a family, the late Evelyn Waugh’s novel of the 1940’s. The eldest son was closest to his father by lineage and therefore right up to the task of leading the family on the father’s death. A wise father will apportion his estate equally throughout his progeny either in his lifetime or after his death. The significance of primogeniture is the ancient understanding of the father’s power and wealth transferring to the oldest son. The younger son will go into politics, the Church or the Army to seek his career - the elder son is duty bound to fulfil his father’s wishes and step into his shoes.
4. What can the father offer his son?
Essentially not his wealth, although those treasured assets will have become the elder son’s in years gone by, but the father’s undying spirit to all his sons but particularly the oldest. That spirit is imbued in to the older son from that son’s earliest years. Of course this spirit is within each son of the father, but the younger sons have the humility to accept a lesser place in the family’s cherished inheritance, and by inheritance I mean the sacred gift of faith in God. Lesser yes but sometimes the greater path is the least path: To be servant of all - to be a Martha. The younger son has the inestimable reward of being welcomed back by his father from the penury and squandering of his inheritance - the father kills the fatted calf in his honour so delighted is he to have his son back. It is the younger son who matters in this Parable of the Prodigal son in our New Testament. The oldest son simply shows his churlish side by demanding of his father:
“I have behaved correctly but you do not kill the calf for me.”
Christ here is extolling the younger son’s role.
Every self respecting man honours his father, dead or alive, yet each man is born of woman. A good father teaches respect for the mother of his sons in those sons. The father will pull out all the stops for his sons. He will do everything in his power to extricate his sons and help them on their way, as in the Parable quoted. The son will always be grateful to his father out of filial devotion. The blood line is vital yet it may disappear. What really counts is the chain of faith, link by link, passed down by one generation to another. For example the two wartime generations 1914-18 and 1939-45 have left an indelible mark of sacrifice on our British Society and English cadre of leadership. That transmission one generation to another is more important than any one family. Each family has its story but the overwhelming force of history matters most in the influence on those for whom they gave their lives - namely our tomorrow.
Never come between father and son, and all good families work on that thinking. Men must lead the way but women are at the centre. There is no greater influence on a man than his mother if he has the opportunity to develop a relationship with her. Where mother and father are united their issue reap great rewards. Where disunited the path of those children may be navigated nevertheless in childhood and adulthood. Nothing is too much for father and mother.
Yes I come to the Son of Man as He called Himself somewhat misleadingly. He was the Son of God and He is the Son of God and He always will be the Son of God. Will the son live up to the father’s expectations as Christ Himself did? The example He set us is superlative and our run of the mill lives as mere mortals are raised up by this Son of all Sons. His self sacrifice we shall never match but the lesson of our Heavenly reward taught by Him is not lost on us, His sons and daughters. This is the Father at work - He says: love the Son, He will do my will not slavishly but of His very own heart and soul. At the end the Heavenly reward was and is given to Christ for His great obedience to His Father. For us we will imitate not mimic Christ and follow in His steps to the Father and our reward. It is the First Person of the Trinity whom we know, love and obey by the Second Person: Christ Himself. Let us rise up as sons of Jesus to enunciate the sign of the Cross eternal: - In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, or as the Roman Catholic Church used to say in Latin:
“In nomine Patris et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.”