What is the relationship with your Dad? – The 3rd Saturday of Advent w/ Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast

What is the relationship with your Dad? – The 3rd Saturday of Advent w/ Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts Podcast

The episode begins with a reading from the book of the prophet Malachi, emphasizing the coming of a messenger to prepare the way for the Lord. This messenger, likened to a refiner’s fire, signifies a purifying force. The discussion then shifts to the New Testament, recounting the birth of John the Baptist and his role in fulfilling prophecies, especially that of turning the hearts of fathers to their children and vice versa.

Monsignor Esseff delves into the significance of this message, relating it to our personal relationships with our earthly fathers. He asks listeners to reflect on their relationships with their fathers and how these relationships impact their understanding of God as a heavenly father. This reflection is particularly poignant in light of the upcoming Christmas season, which symbolizes God’s love for humanity through the birth of Jesus.

Furthermore, Monsignor Esseff explores various familial scenarios, including divorced parents, single-parent families, and those affected by alcoholism or imprisonment. He encourages listeners to contemplate their origins and the circumstances of their upbringing, emphasizing that God’s love encompasses all, regardless of these conditions.

The podcast also addresses fathers directly, urging them to consider their roles and relationships with their children. Monsignor Esseff highlights the importance of fathers seeing their children as reflections of Jesus, thereby fostering a deeper connection with God.

As the episode concludes, Monsignor Esseff expands on the idea of universal brotherhood and sisterhood under God, our shared father, reinforcing the message of unity and love within the human family.

Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

  1. Self-Reflection on Father-Child Relationship: How does my relationship with my earthly father mirror or contrast with my relationship with God, our Heavenly Father? Reflect on the ways this relationship has shaped your understanding of God’s fatherly love and forgiveness.
  2. Understanding of John the Baptist’s Role: In what ways do I see John the Baptist as a figure who prepares the way for Christ in my life? Consider how his mission of turning hearts towards each other and towards God is relevant in your personal spiritual journey.
  3. Role of Suffering and Purification: Reflect on the imagery of the refiner’s fire from Malachi’s reading. How do I understand the role of suffering, challenges, or purification in my life as a means of spiritual growth and closeness to God?
  4. Prayer for Family Relationships: What specific intentions can I bring to prayer regarding my family relationships? Think about healing, reconciliation, or gratitude, especially in the context of father-child dynamics.
  5. Living as Children of God: How can I better embody the role of being a child of God in my daily life? Consider ways in which you can foster a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood with others, reflecting on the message of unity and love promoted by St. Francis and echoed in the podcast.

Reading 1 Mal 3:1-4, 23-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.Lo, I will send you
Elijah, the prophet,
Before the day of the LORD comes,
the great and terrible day,
To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike
the land with doom.


When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine;