Assumption Catholic Church
323 West Illinois Street - Chicago IL 60654
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Fr. Joseph Chamblain, O.S.M. Pastor




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6/16/2019 Fr. Joseph Chamblain, OSM



Two of our four Gospels contain a list of Jesus’ ancestors. Through the centuries scripture scholars have poured over these genealogies and have found various theological messages in the choice and arrangement of these names. That is what made them important in Jewish culture. Your ancestral line not only established your tribal identity, but also helped determine your personality and character.  Knowing who your ancestors are tells you a lot about the person you are likely to become. Our Jewish ancestors figured that out with common sense. Today we use terms like genetic predisposition and “nature vs. nurture” to talk about the same thing.

When I think about what I inherited from my own family, one ancestral trait always jumps out: never park close to your destination. This trait comes down to me in a direct line from my mother’s father, John Kraft. My grandfather was from Southern Illinois and met my grandmother in 1907 when he was in Memphis working in a hotel. They married the next year. People always described my grandfather as “hard headed,” but I think for him it was just a survival technique. For almost all of my grandparents 58 years of marriage, he lived in a large house that his father-in-law had built and which came furnished with two bachelor brothers-in-law and the bachelor son of another brother-in-law. For a while my grandfather managed a bakery and then he got into sales. Since this was still early in the automobile age, parking lots were largely unknown. Shoppers parked on the street. When making a sales call, my grandfather knew never to park right in front of the targeted store or business. Grabbing the most convenient parking place would make a bad first impression on the owner of the business, who would want that spot to go to a customer. So, my grandfather would always park down the street in front of someone else’s business. What began as a sales strategy in the 1920’s became a life-style choice and an element in his “hard-headedness”. Whenever he drove us anywhere, he would invariably park some distance from our destination, and then turn around and ask, “Can you make it from here?” My uncle learned to drive from my grandfather; and even though he was never in sales, he learned the “inconvenient parking rule.” Whenever my aunt and uncle came to visit us, my uncle always parked across the street and three doors down. He could never bring himself to pull his car into our driveway. And since my uncle taught me to drive, I also learned to choose a less convenient parking place, not out of humility, but simply because it was less convenient. My own father, who, of course, was from another genetic line, never understood this: “Why are you parking here?” Well, because I had to. It was “grandfathered in.”

This weekend as we observe Father’s Day, many of us find ourselves thinking about our own roots. Father’s Day tends to get a lot less attention than Mother’s Day because what dads do for us is frequently in the background and gets taken for granted. The same Congress that established Mother’s Day in 1914 declined to act on a Father’s Day bill. Many members of Congress felt that creating a special day for fathers would open the door to all kinds of ridiculous feasts and observances. Ironically it was one of our first women senators, Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, who nudged Congress toward action in 1957. It is good that Congress finally got around to appreciating dads. Many of us would simply not be who we are without our dads. The guidance, the discipline, the sense of honor and respect for God and others—many of these things we learned from our dads. Of course, for some people Father’s Day is a cause for pain. Some dads are abusive and far too many are absent from the home. The census bureau tells us that one child in four lives in a home without their biological father and that absent fathers are a factor in all the social ills in our country. Sometimes we blame our parents for what has gone wrong in our life. But if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we would not have turned out to be perfect people even if we had had perfect parents. So, on this Father’s Day, let’s thank our dads for the love they have shown us, and for the sacrifices they have made for us, and for all the things they have taught us about navigating life. And, if appropriate, we may also have to forgive our dads (even posthumously) for the things we learned from them that were unhelpful. They may have been the victims of bad parenting too. Some stuff just gets “grandfathered in.”

                                                                  Fr. Joe