Why do we call our priest “Father”? Isn’t that going against scripture? “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Mt 23:9)
Not at all.
In this passage, Jesus is teaching that God the Father alone is ultimately the source of all authority. But God is not speaking absolutely here, because if so, that would eliminate even biological fathers, the title “Church Fathers,” the founding fathers of a country or organization and so on.
Catholics refer to a priest as “father” as a term of endearment and respect.
The priests provides for our spiritual welfare just as a father of a family provides food, shelter and love for his family. Priests, through the Eucharist, provide us with our Spiritual food; through Reconciliation, provide us with forgiveness (Christ is working through the priest); through Mass and the Bible, they teach us about God and His teachings; they listen and give us advice; and by their vocation, they sacrifice their life in service for us and our families.
The Priest is our spiritual Father and we are his spiritual children. We are not elevating the priest to the level of God the Father. Catholics recognize the sovereign Fatherhood of God alone.
In the Bible, many men are called “fathers.” Paul and Stephen call religious leaders “fathers” in Acts 7:2 and Acts 22:1. Paul calls himself the “father” of the Corinthians (1 Cor 4:14-15). There are other verses, too… 1 Thess 2:11, 1 Tim 1:2, and Titus 1:4.Jesus himself uses the term “father” in Matthew (15:4-5; 19:5, 19, 29; 21:31), John (8:56) and several other places. In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus actually presents Lazarus as using the address “Father Abraham” twice (Lk 16:24, 30 – see also Acts 7:; Rom 4:12; Jas 2:21). St. Paul also uses the term when he writes, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Cor 4:15 – see also 1 Cor 4:14-16) and refers to “our forefather Isaac” (Rom 9:10).
So, the next time you see a priest, address him as “Father” and thank him for being a priest. Be sure to pray for him too. Our priests are constantly under spiritual attack, and need our prayers. Of course there are some who have not lived up to their call of the priesthood, just like many fathers with children have not either. They all need our prayers. Thank them for their service to the Church, and support them when you can.
Remember – No priests, no Eucharist. No priests, no Reconciliation. No priests, no Confirmation. No priests, No Annointing of the Sick. No priests, No Holy Orders. These men have dedicated their lives to Christ and His Church. Please always remember to pray for them as they do their best to lead souls to Christ.
Let us all pray for our priests, bishops, cardinals and Pope Francis. If there is a special priest you would like for all of us to pray for please write his name below and let’s all offer up our prayers for these men as they do their best to bring souls to Christ. Remember in your prayers all of our deacons, nuns and consecrated too.