Sunday, June 21
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 10: 26 – 33
Jesus said to the Twelve:
“Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”
The Gospel of Matthew quotes Jesus as saying to the twelve apostles, “So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” In hearing that, one wonders is that all there is? Am I worth nothing more than a bird, and not even a rare breed of bird? But like in all gospel passages there is a deeper meaning and context to the statement.
The poor in spirit and the poor financially were tasked with finding food that was both plentiful and inexpensive enough to keep them fed and alive. So they began to capture and eat sparrows. They were filling and an essential staple for the poor. They could purchase them cheaply and find them on their own. They could take them to the temple to offer as a sacrifice and thus remain connected to the Jewish Faith.
So it is actually encouraging to hear Jesus tell the twelve, “you are worth more than many sparrows,” because they would know that Jesus values them for who they are and the mission he has entrusted to them. That mission is to proclaim Him in the light of day, and not to be afraid of those who reject or persecute them on account of His name and teaching. Jesus is encouraging the twelve to hide out no longer, no hedges, just the message that He is the Lord of Life who has come to save the world.
Think about that message this week and when you see a sparrow remember their value too. They praise the Lord by their birdness, and we by our humanity.