“Beware… (but) do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”
In this Gospel, Jesus goes from warning to reassuring. He first warns his close disciples to beware of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Why is this warning needed? Because Jesus plans to put them in positions of leadership of the Church He will establish, and He wants them to always remember and guard against the kind of superficial concerns and selfishness that keep the Pharisees from loving and serving truly. Authority has the tendency to stir in those who have it the desire to do what is expedient in order to keep it. Jesus says: Keep desire for truth and love and humility as the main concern, and don’t fall into the trap of self-righteous self-protection that the Pharisees have fallen into!
Then He addresses the crowd, which Luke points out has grown dramatically, to the point that they are trampling one another underfoot (the translation of the Greek is “tens of thousands”). Jesus now has so many followers that He could, if He desired, lead a rebellion to overthrow the Romans and at last take authority of the Kingdom that so many believed He had come to establish. But no; another lesson in authority is given: His Kingdom is not of this world, and will not be established by force. His Kingdom is quiet and hidden, expanding heart by heart as each person opens to Him and invites Jesus to reign within. This King expands his Kingdom by surrendering His whole self and His life for us.
But this Kingdom is also demanding! To enter into the Kingdom means we lovingly surrender all in return, and that the full Truth – of ourselves and of God – will eventually be known to all! In the interim, we need not fear anything, not even those who can take our mortal lives with violence, because this Kingdom we have longed for will be more fully ours after our death.
Our courage and faithfulness in the face of many difficulties arise from the truth of God’s great love for us and his never-failing help, his infinite loving kindness. We are not loved “en masse” but as individuals, even in the smallest details. God sees every detail of our lives, both the deep, hidden hurts and the tiny acts of loving service that go unnoticed by others. Jesus assures us that God knows the details we cannot know fully, that the very hairs of our head have all been counted. Even the sparrows, worth so little that a fifth one is thrown in when four are purchased, do not escape the providence of God.
And you, “you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Kathryn is married to Robert, mother of seven, grandmother to two, and a lay Carmelite. She has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and also as a writer and voice talent for Holy Family Radio. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and presenter, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, individual parishes, and Catholic ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Learn more at www.kathryntherese.com or on Facebook @summapax.