Earlier this week, our granddaughter, Cate, came back from a bike ride with her grandpa, in tears. While on the ride she saw a notice about a lost cat. Being a lover of cats, this caused her great distress. Through her tears, she wondered about the cat being scared to be away from its family and what about the family, wouldn’t they be in great anxiety? This was too much pain for her to imagine in her almost nine-year-old world. She asked me if I thought God would be present to the situation. I was immediately reminded of today’s Gospel and could assure her that “Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge” (v. 29). And I think that could be stretched even to a cat. Of course, we don’t know what happened to the lost cat, but it provided me with a wonderful opportunity to assure Cate that God was very definitely present to the situation and every situation.
We said a prayer of thanksgiving for a God who loves us so much that “the very hairs on our head are counted” (v. 30). While this may stretch the context of today’s Gospel where Jesus is preparing the disciples for the coming persecutions as a result of being his followers. It certainly brought consolation to Cate.
Suffering can be experienced on many levels from a lost pet to the death of a loved one to grave illness or simply scuffed knees. We may not always be going out as sheep among wolves as we read earlier in this narrative. The important thing to remember is that at each level and situation God is there with us. Period. Nothing is too trivial for God to disregard. Have you ever noticed sparrows at work? Our Father is such a loving God that he has the hairs on our head counter—he is that intimate with us—that close to us. And, we are never to forget that.
…..”We are worth more than many sparrows” (v. 31)
In our first reading, we have the death and burial of Jacob and later of Joseph. Before Jacob died, Joseph forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery. That act, though evil in intent, saved them all and many more from famine in Egypt. Joseph was able to recognize the good that came from a bad situation and give God thanks. God’s plan for our lives can take many turns and we are often at a loss to understand what is happening. We may even feel God as absent. This is where our faith comes in to play. We remember Jesus words of encouragement whether it’s a lost cat, a scuffed knee or a lost job, regardless. No matter what is going on in your life, believe that you are worth more than many sparrows and trust. Believe that we are all worth many sparrows and celebrate his presence in your life.
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.