A Great Honour

This week I became godfather to some good friends’ son. In today’s day and age, when the development of a child’s faith is usually considered secondary to the fulfilment of their every whim, such a role would be considered by many as anachronistic.

But for me, the honour of being asked to take a formal role in the guidance of a child’s spiritual journey was both humbling and a cause for pride.

Humbling because, despite my many failings, another family considered me worthy of a permanent place in their child’s life. Proud that, even with these frailties, my friends have seen some qualities in me that they recognise as important in the development of their child.

This dichotomy between the eternal values and human actions is symptomatic of the moral challenge that confronts us all.

For two millennia mankind has understood the higher calling that was demonstrated by the life of Jesus Christ and subsequently failed to live up to his example.

While almost all historical accounts accept Jesus as a real figure, it is the devotees of the Christian faith that believe him to be the Son of God.

For the non-Christian, the divinity of Jesus Christ is cause for question but few can question the example he set for all of us. His serenity under persecution, his equanimity in the face of adversity and his forgiveness for transgressions truly demonstrate that he was the light and the word of the world.

Today, while many of us seek to live virtuous lives, modelled on Christ’s example, we fail in hundreds of ways every day. But such failings are indeed human and serve as a continuing example of how far removed we are from God’s intended plan.

Now I accept that these failings are a part of human nature and are in themselves not cause for condemnation. Our absence of patience, loss of temper and lack of discipline are just some everyday examples of human frailty.

However, there is a divine presence that alerts us to those times when we fail to live up to our creator’s expectations. It burdens our hearts and our demeanour until we can make amends; with ourselves and those with whom we have transgressed.

Some would consider this a manifestation of the ‘natural law’ that lives within all of our hearts. Others would reject such a suggestion as metaphysical hocus-pocus.

Whatever one’s personal belief in matters of faith, one cannot separate the life of Christ and its importance to Western culture. Our society is built on the Judeo-Christian tradition that serves as the bedrock of our civilisation.

However, there are concerted forces that work to undermine these enduring values by constantly seeking ways to reduce their importance in the public eye. Through insisting upon an equivalence of culture, decrying the Christian faith as a force for good and promoting moral relativity, the anti-Christian forces pursue their agenda in the public sphere.

In doing so, they have weakened the essential bonds that bind us together as a society. It is evidenced by an increasing array of anti-social behaviour which can be linked to the gradual abandonment of our traditional values.

The challenge ahead is to restore these values as a central part of what makes our community function in an orderly and cohesive manner.

That’s why the tradition of godfather is so important to me. It suggests that even in a secular world undergoing rapid change, there is a continuing belief that we can all have a positive impact on another’s life.

In short, it is a daily reminder that life is not simply about ourselves but about our obligation to the next generation.

Of course, all of us with children of our own already knew that. Happy Father’s Day!

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