We Count More Than a Flock of Sparrows!
Sunday of Week 12 in Ordinary Time - Year A
Jer. 20:10-13; Rom. 5:12-15; Mt. 10:26-33
Some of us fail to recognise our worth. The world has many ways of putting us down. More often than not, it simply ignores us! A sense of our own self-worth is difficult to build, and even more difficult to maintain. Today's Gospel reading addresses this fact.
Jesus was preparing His Apostles for their first preaching mission. He knew that the world would not treat them any more kindly than it had treated Him. To prepare them, He reminded them of their personal worth and their importance to God. He compared them to sparrows that are the most common birds in the world. Apparently worthless little creatures, in God's eyes they are valuable. Not one of them falls to the ground without His awareness of this happening.
Like sparrows, we sometimes feel so small in such a large and indifferent world. Most people do not even know we exist. And of those who do, how many really care? Our contributions are so minimal that society could probably get along just as well without us. If we were to die today, it would not create so much as a ripple on the pond of life. Flags would not fly at half-mast. No one would declare a day of public mourning. Family and a few friends would attend our funeral. Our place of burial would be duly marked and we would soon be forgotten. The world would then carry on without us.
If that assessment seems morbid, you will have to admit that for most people it is realistic. But this is not so with Jesus. He agreed that to the world sparrows are virtually worthless. Yet He insisted that not one of them ever falls to the ground without the awareness of His Father. From that thought Jesus drew this conclusion, "You are worth more than hundreds of sparrows." We may be small and insignificant in this world, but we are important to God.
Like sparrows, we also feel helpless before the strong winds of life. Think of the storms that sometimes sweep through an area, leaving a trail of devastation behind them. Examine one of these sites after the storm. You will witness a death or two, broken limbs, power lines brought down, damaged or destroyed houses, sometimes full grown trees uprooted. Look more closely, and you will see small birds lying on the ground. Sparrows are made to fly, they are not designed to handle strong winds. Those that are caught in a storm fall to the ground.
Jesus recognised that people fall, just like sparrows, and often through no fault of their own. They are simply victims of things beyond their control. Life puts more on them than they are designed to handle. When that happens, they fall. People fall victims to hunger, diseases, wars and natural calamities. But Jesus reminds us that disaster does not diminish our worth. We may feel and be helpless, but we are not forgotten. "Not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's consent." Though the tragedies of life seem to say that we do not matter, this fact remains, we do matter to God.
Like sparrows, we also seem so common as to have little or no value. These days we hear a lot about endangered species. Some creatures are near extinction. When that truth comes to light, those that remain are valuable. Quite obviously, sparrows are not one of those endangered species. There are millions of them and one sparrow has no value at all. Can the same be said about people? There are about five billion of us on the Earth. How can any one person be considered valuable in the midst of so many? To answer that question accurately, we must first know who is that one person.
If we are speaking of some nameless, faceless individual, residing somewhere in the slums of Calcutta, then the answer is obvious. That person has no real importance to you and me. Whatever happens to him or her will not affect us in any way. We will not even know about it. But if that one person is the child who shares our home, then the answer is decidedly different. We know every detail of that child's life. Anything that happens to him or her is of first-rate importance to you and me.
Jesus wants us to understand, that with God our Father there is no such thing as a nameless, faceless individual. Every person is His child who shares His home. He knows the details of every life and cares very deeply about what happens to each of us. That is what Jesus meant when He said, "Every hair on your head has been counted." We may feel common in the midst of the multitudes that surround us, but that is not the way God looks upon His children. He does not see sparrows in a flock. He sees each one. "You are worth more than an entire flock of sparrows."
Lord Jesus, when we feel small, helpless, insignificant and unloved, let us call to mind Your reassuring words, “You are worth more than a hundred sparrows.“ This should help us recognize our true worth.