KNIGHT TIME | Episode 1 | Making Every Day Father’s Day with the Greatest Dad of All

(Editor’s note: In addition to the YouTube and Rumble videos, the transcript can be found below).

Timestamps

0:00 Happy Father’s Day | Enlighten Me

0:26 The Gospel, Humility, and the Apostle Simon

2:25 The Calcasieu Bridge and a Personal Example

3:13 Connection to Batman

3:40 Connection to the Current Political Landscape

4:37 Jesus Christ’s Call to the Flawed and Broken

6:11 The Children Are Watching Us

7:33 Story of a Little Boy and His Father in Church

8:48 Lesson of the Story: How Children First Learn About God

10:58 Matthew 22: The Caesar Coin 12:22

The Binary Trap 15:08 The Lesson from Jesus in Matthew 22

Happy Father’s Day to my dad, Norbert LeJeune. He was married to one woman, Rosalie, for 63 years before she died 33 days after their anniversary.

PSALM 12: 4 & 5: Enlighten my eyes, that I never sleep in death; lest at any time my enemy say, I have prevailed against him.

Matthew 18, Mark 9, and Luke 9 preach on humility, and not collecting glory or praise for ourselves for our own sake. For when they dispute among themselves which of them should be the greatest, which historically is a scene imbued with the ambitious spirit of Judaism and the Apostles’ belief then that Jesus was going to restore the kingdom of Israel, Christ is clear: “If any man desire to be first, he shall be the last of all and the minister of all.” Incidentally this scene is one of many that relates to current politics and the State of Israel, but that will not be my purpose today.

Comparatively, Luke 5:1-11 tells us that at that time, Jesus is standing by the lake. He sees two ships, one of them Simon’s, who will be named Peter, sitting idle. He tells Simon, who has failed in his efforts this day, to cast out again, this time into the deep. Simon, after giving lip service to his failure, moves in the direction of obedience. His action, his works, here take him through what could be viewed as momentary wavering faith. Of course we all know how the story ends. Simon and his crew take in a net-full of fish so heavy that it breaks the net. 

If one takes on the “noticer” approach to life, as my good friend and teacher Billie Stultz calls it, or the “introspective” approach to life, as my fiancé calls it, he or she can immediately make any number of connections among Scripture, the big events happening in the political world, and the so-called smaller events of our lives. Here, we see Christ making a dramatic example to show Simon not only his own power, but perhaps more important the power that Simon does and will have as Peter with Christ his King working through him. Such a dramatic example occurred today as Linh and I were driving to Mass in Sulphur. Once again forgetting that I want to avoid that rickety I-10 bridge at all costs, I was on my way to it, and very nearly kept driving, despite this past week’s warnings and terrifying pictures sent in to the news station. But in the next second I put my foot down in my mind so to speak and put my foot down on the brake to redirect toward the by-pass and safer travels. I told Linh that I hated to be dramatic, but I needed her to have something stuck in her mind to remember not to cross that bridge when she’s coming in from Houston. 

It was a dramatic moment that our feeble and forgetful human minds so often need. My hope is that she will remember this redirection from now on and take appropriate action to steer clear of danger. 

I am reminded of a scene in the Dark Knight series, where character Bruce Wayne introspectively communicates to his butler that people need to dramatic examples to shake them from their apathy, and that he must use Batman to do it. Batman is the dramatic example, the powerful symbol, people can see and instantly interpret as a wealth of things that a sentence or speech of words will never do. 

In the political world, this very specifically relates to Donald Trump, a man who has become more a symbol than anything else. He is a man who has bucked the system of control for nine years now, a system who, at every turn, works to eliminate him. He is a challenge and an adversary to their Deep State agenda. Donald Trump obviously is not the second coming of Christ, but that is not the point nor is it supposed to be the point. Mr Trump is as flawed and fractured as Simon, Mary Magdalene, and Levi in the New Testament and Abram, Cyrus, and even Moses in the Old. Yet he has continued to fight against child trafficking, election fraud, government corruption, and even things like most recently the IRS and income taxes–which are all things that most of us would agree on. People I love and respect discount and dismiss him because he is flawed; but what the Gospel says us today is that Jesus Christ himself, God the Father himself, chooses precisely the flawed among us because any success greater than broken humanity might make a god out of the person performing it. God has chosen to make dumb and destitute Simon Peter a fisher of men not in spite of his fallenness–but precisely because of it.

This is the humility of God. This is the humility Mary shows us in Luke 10:46-55 that her soul “Magnifies the Lord…. and that

God has scattered the proud in the conceit of their hearts.

God has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the humble. It is the same  eyes toward God Simon has after his catch when he falls down at Jesus’ knees and says, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Simon recognizes his lowliness, his fallenness, his doubt. It is then that Christ lifts him up, that Christ exalts him beyond the flesh of his being.

It is right and just that we follow in the footsteps of those that have gone before us. They are models as to how to look at Jesus Christ, at God the Father, and we ask them to help us see God with their eyes, for they have perfected such a gaze. And God so often works through others–the fallen in our world–most notably today our earthly fathers, to train our eyes to see him as we should.

It is one of the most inspiring aspects of the understanding of the role of the Mass that children grow into their own understanding and love for the liturgy through watching the spiritual posture of the adults around them. If a faithful wants to truly love on a child in the middle of Mass, he or she would do well not to play peek-a-boo while the sacred consecration is taking place and instead fix his eyes on that altar, on that Eucharist, on that crucified Savior.

The children will see in our unwavering gaze the witness’s love of God and the way the Father, through Christ and the Holy Ghost, has commanded us to worship. It is this transfer that is true agape love for the child, not the playing of a fleeting game in church where the message conveyed in such idleness is that what is going on here is much more important than what is going on there.

And if we’re not aware of this on a consistent basis, what we can create is a bunch of little narcissists who grow up to be a bunch of really big narcissists. Of course I can’t prove causation here, only suggest correlation, but given the plague of self-indulgent behavior poisoning our society, anyone disagreeing with my guess here would have a difficult time proving with absolute assurance that such an observable surmise is wrong.

One morning a few months ago, the Sunday before the beginning of March and its dedication to St. Joseph, I had the honor of being witness to one of those inspiring moments between father and son that was an Earthly microcosm of the love of a human soul with his Heavenly Father. I had to force myself not to enjoy it too long, in fact. The child, a beautiful platinum blonde haired little boy (just like his three brothers, incidentally), in the arms of this father, was playing an alternating game of light touching and pressing of the head and face with a slightly more aggressive smacking of the head. He’d touch the earlobe, then the nose, then the forehead ever so gently, with intent, with scrutiny. Then he’d open his little palms and tap-tap smack the side of his father’s head before resuming his softer examination. And through it all, through what could have been a distraction and opportunity for play with his son, the father stood like a stalwart knight, not goo-goo-ga-ga-ing with his son, not forcing him to stop or behave either, but instead just keeping his head and eyes straight on where they should be–on the altar.

It was a reminder of where mine needed to shift back to.

The lesson I absorbed was clear. The child was playing, yes. It was cute, yes. But there was something deeper here, something eternal. The boy was also testing, calculating, examining–something. Something of value, something he cherished. The child was doing all of these things with such purpose because he was taking mental inventory on the image of his father’s face, a face that at this point in his young life is as sacred as anything occurring on that altar.

That is how he is learning about God the Father, by pressing his fingers into his father’s face.

It was always a difficult task for me to hold a healthy relationship with God the Father because my Earthly father and I, for whatever reason, didn’t click. That is no fault of my father’s. I have perhaps been too sensitive and sullen my whole life to truly feel the kind of cute joy this young child and his three brothers exude in Mass. I think it likely a sensitivity my father never understood. In a great irony, mine was the same temperament as my mother, his wife he loved dearly and stood by in her final years.

I wish I had smiled and pressed my little fingers into my father’s big ears and big nose and long oval face more. I wish I had tapped his head where his hair was thinning. Maybe I did and just don’t remember it.

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But the point here is that this child on this glorious Sunday morning was doing something that we all should do with God, our Heavenly Father. We should be touching the image of His face, surveying and scrutinizing it, because we share in His image and must spend a lifetime learning all the nooks and crannies of what that actually means. And we can only get to know that by developing a relationship with Jesus through liturgy, Scripture, and temporal suffering.

As Genesis 1:27 proclaims, “And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.” 

We can be like God if we want to be. Just as that little boy wants to be like Dad when he grows up.

In one of the most pivotal passages in all of Scripture, Matthew 22, the story of the Caesar coin, Christ gives a lesson in a number of things, not the least of which is a subtle yet powerful reminder of who our Creator is and whose perfect image we are to emulate. After the Pharisees and Herodians unleash their nefarious trap on him, or attempt to, the Son of God says to them, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?”

It is one of those Scripture passages that will eliminate any false notion of Jesus Christ being a nice fella to everyone, or that “He Gets Us” as that disgusting series of establishment media commercials poses–most notably during this year’s Super Bowl. It is a Gospel truth I explore more in depth in “The Poison of Nice,” that Christ was good, in the truest, purest sense of the word, the most good to ever walk the earth in fact. But He was not always nice.

Especially to snakes that attempted to not just trick Him, but trick Him in a way that would cast doubt among His followers and lead them astray–as the Pharisees and Herodians attempt in Matthew 22. That may be what He is most angry with here. And it turns out that one of the messages Christ has for us in this Gospel passage is the same lesson that little boy taught me as I had to peel my eyes off of him and back to the altar.

It involves the binary trap, the manipulation of wrong mutually exclusive thinking. The ancient Greeks called it the fallacy of either-or reasoning. Yet one more terminology is blind tribalism.

Indeed, the passage from Matthew presents Christ’s enemies in an attempt to trap Him. What makes this story especially insidious is that the enemies are two warring tribes in themselves–the Herodians and the Pharisees–two groups who stood in hateful defiance of each other. But as is the case in so many wars, sometimes alliances between enemies must be formed if they interpret a greater enemy in their midst.

In this case the enemy was a man in the perfect image and likeness of God the Father. And the devils couldn’t handle that. Matthew 22:15-22 reads: 

Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and do not care what anyone thinks; for You are not partial to anyone. Tell us then, what do You think? Is it permissible to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They *said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He *said to them, “Then pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” And hearing this, they were amazed; and they left Him and went away (Mt. 22: 15-22 NASB).

Instead of remaining submissive as He is when he is later accused by Annas, Caiaphas, and Pontius Pilate, Jesus here flips–quite cunningly–their manipulative, false binary on top of them and creates a new one, one that does two things: 1) it ties their devious tongues in a knot and silences any of His disciples’ doubt that could have arisen from a potentially unanswered question; and 2) plainly, and more importantly, it speaks truth. For the only unadulterated, mutual exclusivity that should exist is the binary of good and evil, God and not-God.

Image on the coin? Caesar’s. Then give the coin to Caesar. Image on your heart? God’s. Then give your whole heart to God.

God and not-God. It is the only binary that matters. And the feature and terminology Jesus alerts his disciples to is the notion that we are created in the image of God our Father. It is a concept and lesson likely not even directed at the stiff-necked Pharisees and Herodians, who remain stuck in their delusion. It is a concept taught well by the Old Testament the Pharisees should have known well, as we see in Gen. 1:26-27; Gen. 5:1-2; Gen. 9:6; and Psalm 8:3-8 and extended in the New, as we see in James 3:9 and Matthew 5:48).

It was this first Scripture passage from Genesis and this last one from Matthew–“Be perfect just as your Father in Heaven is perfect”–that I reflected on as I moved my eyes, from the smiling child pressing his fingers into the image of his father’s face, back to the altar. God likes our soft caresses. He loves the playful hits. It was a reminder, if only for a second, of how nature can lead to grace and draw it down from Heaven. It was a reminder to play and press my fingers into my Father’s face more often, not to just settle for the bare minimum in my relationship with Him. He wants the promise of our time, our attention, and it should be nothing but our joy, our honor, and our eternal blessing to press onward toward perfection with Him.

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