Dear Believers in Christ Jesus,
I recently sat at the bedside of an elderly couple married for 66 years. They were almost paralyzed by fear, the deep fear of one spouse losing the other. They were confused about their conversations with doctors and feared what the nursing home attendants were telling them. I reached into the oil of the Sacrament of the Sick and touched their foreheads and their fear with love and understanding.
Presence in darkness is a balm of hope. Jesus says that all will be revealed. This couple’s fear covered their day in darkness. Our conversation brought light. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that for a moment their fear dwindled on that summer afternoon.
Today’s gospel, Matthew 10:26-33, calls us into a deep trust. Jesus says that we are worth more than sparrows. During my conversation with the couple, I wanted them to see their value the way Jesus does, as much more than the tiny birds in the cage in the lobby. People get lost in old age and illness. People lose their way from divorce, mental impairment and a lack of insurance. Sometimes it is up to us to bring light and a simple presence to people.
We are all worth more than the sparrows. Sometimes we lose sight of our value when we can no longer fly free like the birds and feel the fresh air of the morning. Sometimes when our children betray us, when our bodies are stiff with arthritis, we no longer feel cared for or valued. We may feel Jesus forgets us when our money runs out and our ability to walk is gone.
Jesus says to all of us again, “Do not be afraid.” We find our freedom when we sing like birds in the Mass, when we pray through our fear, even in times of great darkness. Our prayer does not stop in our church. Our prayer is taken deep into the darkness of a nursing home with the drapes closed. Our prayer is taken into jail cells, to the starving people of the Sudan and into the centers where people recover from meth and heroine in our city. Our prayer, offered as light and hope, is seen well beyond our churchyard and the confines of our supper tables.
Our faith is lived deeply in our world. No matter our education, no matter how much money we have earned, no matter what neighborhood of our upbringing, we are called to extend our prayer deeply into the human condition. We do so because so many people need to know once again that they are cared for more than sparrows. Jesus shows his care through our efforts to help others.
How can you enter more deeply into Jesus’ care and tenderness for you? What do you need to admit to or let go of to discover whispers of hope from Jesus? What is concealed in your life that needs to be revealed? How are you being called to show others that God cares for them?