Calling a priest a Father


#1

Today’s e-mail from catholic.com posed a question “where in the bible does it say to call a priest a father”.

Well, the bible specifically says DO NOT CALL A PRIEST A FATHER. It’s in Matthew 23:9, Jesus says “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one father and he is in heaven.”

This is specifically in a verse about calling religious leaders fathers.

Is there an answer to that one?

-Rob
p.s. If you have a good response, please cc: me at robwilkens@hotmail.com so I can come back and read it.


#2

[quote=rwilkens]Well, the bible specifically says DO NOT CALL A PRIEST A FATHER. It’s in Matthew 23:9, Jesus says “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one father and he is in heaven.”
[/quote]

Matthew 23:9 doesn’t say not to call a priest “Father.” Please don’t take Scripture out of context. It distorts true Christian teaching.

Consider the words of the Apostle Paul (emphasis added): “I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:14–15).

– Mark L. Chance.


#3

Father** for Priests**

Matthew 23:1-12 [1] Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, [2] saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. [3] Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. [4] They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. [5] All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. [6] They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, [7] greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ [8] As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. [9] **Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. **

There is a curious blindness regarding both the context and other elements of this text. The text says to call no one Rabbi, no one Master and no one Father, yet “literalists” home in only on the Catholic priesthood. Who has ever rejected calling a Jewish expert in the Torah “Rabbi,” or refused his “Master” of Divinity degree, or refrained from calling his male parent “Father,” lest he violate the injunction of Christ? The fact is that all of these things are done without regret by biblical “literalists,” who are strangely un-literal in this as in other matters.

But a true literalism is guided not by prejudice (prejudging the guilt of Catholics), but by understanding the intention of the author, the literary style (which can effect meaning), the context of the text and other relevant factors - all of which point to the necessity of an authority such as the Magisterium, since what individual, even a great scholar, can discern every nuance of history, language and theology that might apply. In this Catholics have the advantage of the Apostolic Tradition of interpretation, an advantage private interpreters lack.

So, what was Jesus saying? Well, in Matthew 16 we see in verses 5-12 that Jesus warned his disciples about the leaven (teaching) of the Pharisees and Sadducees. This meant that they were the purveyors of human opinions about the truth. The Pharisees, in particular, had raised opinion to a science, with different schools of thought lead by a Master, Rabbi, Teacher, Father, whose opinions on the Law were meticulously transmitted to, and followed by, his disciples. These groups often tried to get Jesus on their side against their opponents, since people recognized that He spoke with authority, not like their scribes and Pharrasees.

He graciously wills to allow human participation in the communication of natural life and to associate with human males the authority of His fatherhood. The male human parent is rightly called Father for his cooperation with the Fatherhood of God in giving life.

The male spiritual parent of sons and daughters in Christ is rightly called Father/

Catholic priests deserve to be called Father as long as they are the faithful conduits of supernatural life, truth and love, passing on the Apostolic Faith, Sacraments and unity in Communion first transmitted to Peter and the other Apostles.** Thus, St. Paul was able to say to the Corinthians that while they had 10,000 guides in Christ they had only one Father, himself **(1 Cor. 4:15).


#4

Forgive me. I misunderstood and was honestly looking for where it said otherwise. However, to me it sounds like Paul wasn’t aware of the words of Jesus when he wrote what he wrote.

-Rob

[quote=mlchance]Matthew 23:9 doesn’t say not to call a priest “Father.” Please don’t take Scripture out of context. It distorts true Christian teaching.

Consider the words of the Apostle Paul (emphasis added): “I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:14–15).

– Mark L. Chance.
[/quote]


#5

On this very site, is an article that answers this question completely:

Call No Man “Father”?
catholic.com/library/Call_No_Man_Father.asp


#6

And where in that article it points out that Jesus uses Hyperbole (“Remove your right eye if it causes you to sin, for it is better for you to be blind than it is to go to hell” (loosely quoted))… I’m more convinced that the religion is a sham (and I am a Catholic by upbringing, went to catholic high school and the whole 9 yards). Why does God constantly tempt us with sin if indeed he does not want us to. For as the article says, lust is a sin and everyone does it and hence everyone would be blind. Why is it so easy to lust? Why does our body chemically react to objects which make us lust and desire to lust? Why did “God” design us that way if he didn’t want us to do it?

“Revelation 7:1-8” (today’s beliefnet reading) said something about seeing angels on the four corners of the earth. THERE ARE NOT FOUR CORNERS ON THE EARTH as people in other cultures had discovered by that point. And seeing as there are not four corners, how could one see something there?

Sigh.

Feel free to censor me. I’m honestly looking for explanations and answers, but I understand if no one wants to hear my frustrations.

-Rob

[quote=Fidelis]On this very site, is an article that answers this question completely:

Call No Man “Father”?
catholic.com/library/Call_No_Man_Father.asp
[/quote]


#7

Those aren’t unreasonable questions. If you really want answers to sincere questions, I suggest you start a new thread for each of them.


#8

I am wondering why calling a priest a Father is so bothersome to you. It seems like splitting hairs. Is there more to your concern than you are letting on, perhaps? Just wondering…


#9

Ok, clearly your problems here go far deeper than the mere issue of calling priests “Father” – which is fine, and I’m not surprised. Countless people have begun their investigation of the Church based on those types of specific “where does it say…” questions. :slight_smile: Welcome to the quest for Truth!

[quote=rwilkens]Why does God constantly tempt us with sin if indeed he does not want us to. … Why did “God” design us that way if he didn’t want us to do it?
[/quote]

Right there seems to be your key problem with the Church – the “Problem of Evil” (as philosophers have dubbed it), and the one true argument against the existence of a loving God (according to Aquinas). Stemming from this basic seeming-contradiction of an all-powerful and all-good God and the existence of evil is also the modern debate regarding free will (whether we have it or we don’t) which seems to be what your second part is relating to (isn’t God causing us to sin, and therefore causing us to be damned, by making us the way we are?).

I would recommend that you first go read Aquinas’ cosmological argument for the existence of a “God”. You can find that here at newadvent.org/summa/100203.htm

Next, go to Peter Kreeft’s website and read some of the featured writing there, particularly the following:

"Problem with Evil"
peterkreeft.com/topics/evil.htm

"Freewill and Predestination"
peterkreeft.com/topics-more/freewill-predestination.htm

“Revelation 7:1-8” (today’s beliefnet reading) said something about seeing angels on the four corners of the earth. THERE ARE NOT FOUR CORNERS ON THE EARTH as people in other cultures had discovered by that point. And seeing as there are not four corners, how could one see something there?

Catholicism sees the Bible as being absolutely True, the very Word of God, but at the same time, something can be “true” without being literally true. The Bible is not considered a purely historical document to the Church, it has meaning on a variety of levels. See the Catechism

Scott Hahn has a fascinating book out about the book of Revelation, called the Lamb’s Supper (get it at or at your local library).

Other readings of the book of Revelation are possible, see the Knights of Columbus’ “Veritas” series booklet entitled “Revelation: A Divine Message of Hope” (find it online at kofc.org/rc/en/publications/cis/publications/veritas/Veritas_CIS351.pdf or order a print copy)

If you do have frustrations with your faith, we do want to hear them, because we want to help you! It is better to be frustrated than to be lukewarm (see Revelation 3:16) and we will be happy to attempt to help you find the answers that you seek. Remember, as St. Augustine put it, “You made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee” – keep searching for Truth, and God will reveal Himself to you.

I will be praying for you! God bless,

+veritas+


#10

I was in a strange mood when I wrote what I wrote. Please understand that I am afflicted with Schizoaffective Disorder, so my moods are known to rapidly shift to extremes at times. Right now I’m also going through a medication change (coming off an antidepressant temporarily) so the problem may be exacerbated tonight and this week.

Leaving that alone, I do not in my normal and sane mind question the existance of a God. I also understand why evil exists – it was explained to me clearly by a gentleman in California (whom I met at a Gym while I was in town for a technical conference back in 2001). Specifically, when you commit sins against God, he releases demons on you. In order for free will to exist, there must be evil to punish wrongs. (Of course, modern psychologists more recommend rewarding good than punishing bad.) Until one resolves the sin with God, one will forever be haunted by those demons.

Ask me, I know. I haven’t been to confession since 1998 (and that was something inside of me telling me that the literal demons that were haunting me were something I needed god’s help with). At the time, I had an “episode” where (I later realized) only I was hearing voices that were threatening my life in malevolent ways (for example, using talk of “abortion after birth” or otherwise trying to convince me that despite appearances I still hadn’t been born yet and could be aborted). Those voices later were commenting on my life like sports announcers (and I don’t normally listen to or watch sports, especially back then, so this very much couldn’t have come from my own brain). It had gotten so bad that my level of fear caused me to believe my father was trying to kill me and I got into a serious physical fight with him.

As long as I agreed to take the poison in the hospital (where I was taken instead of a jail when the police came), they would leave me alone. To this date I take that very real poison (I’ve experienced recently the first signs of permanent brain damage - tardive dyskenisia, and I’m aware of a very real life threatening side effect - NMS - Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome).

While I know I now I have mental problems which started about that time, I also strongly suspect that demons (or the devil himself, if such a thing be one being) were directly responses for the voices i heard and the things I was perceiving. I also suspect demons are responsible for the emotional difficulties I still have.

OK. I know the bible stories are more for illustration of moral issues than they are dictations of raw truth (as is seen with the “four corners of the earth” stuff). I know I can enjoy the bible stories, but I also know I am probably the wrong person to interpret them.

I also am a recent subscriber to “The Catholic Answer” magazine, and ate up the November/December issue, loving everything I read in it (especially the stories about divine intercession – actual responses to prayers). I just received today (later) the September/October issue, and will dig into that when I’m ready.

I apologize for reading one or two things which were unclear to me and blasting my view all askew.

Regards,

-Rob


#11

Rob,

God bless you and may His angels guard over you! I am a physician, though not a psychiatrist, and I can understand what you’re going through since I have seen it many times. There has been some, but very little, medical study looking at the possibility of Schizophrenia being cured by exorcism and though it is rare, it does help 1-2% of the time.

Tardive Dyskenesia certainly is a side effect, but should not cause you any decline in mental ability, it is predominantly a movement disorder. NMS is quite rare and hopefully you have been alerted to the symptoms so you can seek medical attention at the first symptoms. But please don’t live worrying about either, the proven benefits of the ‘poison’ are so much greater than the risks.

God loves you so deeply, please continue to pray and read the bible as well as other books written by solid Catholic authors. Also confess frequently and take the Eucharist as much as possible! :smiley:

Again,
God Bless


#12

[quote=rwilkens]And where in that article it points out that Jesus uses Hyperbole (“Remove your right eye if it causes you to sin, for it is better for you to be blind than it is to go to hell” (loosely quoted))… I’m more convinced that the religion is a sham (and I am a Catholic by upbringing, went to catholic high school and the whole 9 yards). Why does God constantly tempt us with sin if indeed he does not want us to. For as the article says, lust is a sin and everyone does it and hence everyone would be blind. Why is it so easy to lust? Why does our body chemically react to objects which make us lust and desire to lust? Why did “God” design us that way if he didn’t want us to do it?

“Revelation 7:1-8” (today’s beliefnet reading) said something about seeing angels on the four corners of the earth. THERE ARE NOT FOUR CORNERS ON THE EARTH as people in other cultures had discovered by that point. And seeing as there are not four corners, how could one see something there?

Sigh.

Feel free to censor me. I’m honestly looking for explanations and answers, but I understand if no one wants to hear my frustrations.

-Rob
[/quote]

Hi Rwilkens,
If you are really sincere and want to know, you can find out. Just pray. Maybe God will test your sincerity and make you wait patiently. Think about fasting, if you have sufficient faith. Only the Holy Spirit can lead you into all Truth. This is a time for you to build your faith. 1) you have something your Father wants to give you. 2)Now pray ( A major reason why we pray; to build our faith). 3) Fast if you can
4) Keep praying until you receive the answer. From my experience, you wont have to wait very long for such a request. 5) you will recognise the Truth and your faith will be fortified. God is so so beautiful and wisdom.
Christ be with you
walk in lovehttp://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon7.gif
edwinG


#13

As Mark has already pointed out in post number 2, St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, specifically calls himself a spiritual father to them, for they are “his beloved children” to whom he preached the gospel. (1 Cor. 4:14–15).


#14

Also: simply note that millions of people throughout the ages have referred to their biological father as…"father."
Surely Christ does not condemn this, even though doing so would appear to go against his command “Call no one on earth your father.”

Rather, I believe Christ is pointing to the one Fatherhood of God, who alone can command our complete obedience and trust. Our biological fathers and fathers in the priesthood are fathers in the one Fatherhood of God --that is, they are called to represent, in different ways, God’s loving parenthood over us. Of course, this is a tremendous opportunity and challenge for priests and fathers! I believe Christ is condemning any homage given to a person to a degree which ought to be given to God alone…


#15

It makes me wonder what people, who refuse to call any mere man as ‘father’, would call the husband of their mothers. Perhaps they prefer to greet their fathers “**Hello, my mother’s husband.” :smiley: **

Gerry :slight_smile:


#16

[quote=rwilkens]Forgive me. I misunderstood and was honestly looking for where it said otherwise. However, to me it sounds like Paul wasn’t aware of the words of Jesus when he wrote what he wrote.

-Rob
[/quote]

It is unthinkable for St. Paul to be unaware of Jesus’ words, after all, wasn’t Paul sent by Jesus Himself to preach the Good news to all people, unless we are implying that scripture is inconsistent and Jesus contradicted Himself .

Gerry :slight_smile:


#17

**Call No Man Father: Understanding Matthew 23:9 ** **PHILIP GRAY Matthew 23:9, Jesus emphasizes the primary role of Our Heavenly Father. He created us in His image and likeness (cf. Gen. 1:26-28). He made us His children through Baptism in the death and Resurrection of His Son (cf. Rom. 5:12-21; 6:3-4; 8:12-17). Because God created us in His image and likeness, we share in the attributes of God. Insofar as men share in the attributes of the Father, they participate in the one fatherhood of God. **

DISCUSSION In Matthew 23:9 Jesus says, “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.” Many people interpret this to mean, "Do not call a priest “father,” and do not call your dad “father.” Some who hold this opinion go further and believe that calling a priest “father” violates Scripture because it seemingly involves the rejection of a direct command from Jesus. This is a common objection to the Catholic Church. But, if we believe the conclusion that it is wrong to call others “father,” then what are we to make of the Scriptures that contradict this one? For example, in Mark 7:9-13, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees and scribes for not honoring their “fathers.” Furthermore, calling the apostles and their successors “father” was common within the early Christian communities (cf. 1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Jn. 2:12; Acts 7:2; 22:1). As in the case of all scriptural interpretations, we must understand this passage in light of the rest of Scripture (cf. 2 Pet. 1:20; 3:16). This interpretative principle is called the analogy of faith (Catechism, no. 114).

HONOR THY FATHER In Deuteronomy 5:16, God commands, “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” God made this command after telling us to honor Him. With this in mind, it seems reasonable to conclude that God Himself considers others to be “fathers.” Jesus upholds this commandment in Mark 7:9-13. In this passage, He berates the scribes and Pharisees who used traditions to rationalize not providing assistance to their fathers. Similarly, in Matthew 19:16-19, Jesus includes honoring one’s human father as a prerequisite to attaining eternal life. A father is one who begets children. Biologically, to beget means to give the seed from which a child is conceived. A man begets and a woman conceives. In the act of begetting, the man shares in the attributes of God’s fatherhood by participating in the creation of this new life. In turn, God is the author of life who actively creates a soul and infuses it into the child at the moment of conception. It is important to remember that a child does not choose its biological father. The father gives the child life. Just as God gives life to all men, and so deserves our honor and reverence, so a child owes its life to its father, and the father deserves honor from the child. There is a spiritual sense to fatherhood as well. In John 8, Jesus identifies spiritual fatherhood in terms of whom one honors. If we honor the father of lies, the devil is our father; if we honor God, He is our Father (vv. 44-49). Thus, Jesus calls the devil a father of some, and He calls God the Father of others. Those alive in Christ owe their new life to God. But those who are in bondage to sin owe their enslaved existence to Satan. In light of this passage, we can best understand what Jesus meant in Matthew 23:9.


#18

TEXT AND CONTEXT

Matthew 23:9 is part of a larger passage in which Jesus comments on the example of the scribes and Pharisees. St. Matthew devotes the entire chapter to this discourse. While reading the entire chapter is most helpful in understanding this passage, the first 12 verses provide adequate context to begin the discussion: In verse 2, Jesus notes that “the scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat.” By this, He recognizes that they have an obligation to teach the people as Moses taught the people. Because he received the Law from God and then gave it to the people, Moses was the mediator of the Sinai Covenant. The scribes and Pharisees cannot add to what Moses did, but only teach it. As teachers of this Law, they must be respected. This is the first authority identified, and it is rooted in the Sinai Covenant. “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). And when Miriam and Aaron spoke in pride saying, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” (Num. 13:2), God punished them (Num. 13:9-16). Unlike Moses, from whom they claim authority, the scribes and Pharisees used their positions for their own profit and glory. And so while Jesus tells the people to follow the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees, He warns them not to follow their prideful practices. As God punished Miriam and Aaron for their pride, so Jesus warns the scribes and Pharisees of punishment for theirs. One such act of pride was to be called “teacher,” “father,” and “master.” As in other places of Scripture, Jesus emphasizes here that one who seeks to be a teacher, father, or master must serve the rest, and not seek their own glory or power. He does this by introducing a second authority, which would be rooted in the New Covenant ratified in His blood. In Matthew 23:9-10, Jesus identifies fatherhood with the Father in heaven, and authority with the authority He received from His Father. In a different way, He had already done this in Matthew 10:40. In that passage, Jesus commissioned His twelve apostles and sent them out in His name. Jesus told them, “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.” In this way, the apostles knew they acted not on their own authority, but on the authority of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Furthermore, those who accepted them were accepting Christ and His Father in heaven (see also Mt. 18:5; Mk. 9:37; Lk. 9:48; Jn. 13:20; 12:48; Gal. 4:14). Thus, our “father” is the one whom we choose to honor. In Matthew 23:9, Jesus exhorts us to choose His Father and those who act in His name. :blessyou:


#19

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